Spizocorys fringillaris (Botha's lark) 

Vaalrivierlewerik [Afrikaans]; Botha-leeuwerik [Dutch]; Alouette de Botha [French]; Finkenlerche [German]; Cotovia de Botha [Portuguese]

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Spizocorys fringillaris (Botha's lark)   

Botha's lark. [photo Andy and Gill Swash ]

 

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to South Africa, only occurring in the heavily grazed upland grassland of Mpumalanga and the Free State. It avoids poorly drained areas, long grass in valley bottoms, planted pastures, rocky areas and croplands.

Distribution of Botha's lark in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Food 

It eats invertebrates and seeds, briskly foraging on the ground, plucking food items from soil and occasionally hawking prey aerially. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • The nest is a cup built of dry grass and lined with finer material, such as fine grass, hair and wool. It is typically placed in an excavated hole in the ground between grass tufts, or occasionally at the base of a shrub or amongst sheep dung.
Spizocorys fringillaris (Botha's lark)  

Botha's lark nest with eggs, Wakkerstroom, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ]

 
  • Egg-laying season is from October-January.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for roughly 13 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents on a diet of insects (mainly grasshoppers), leaving the nest after about 11-15 days.

Threats

Endangered, as it only occurs in localised, unprotected areas and its total population is roughly estimated to be only 1000-5000 individuals.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 

 

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