Spizocorys starki (Stark's lark) 

Woestynlewerik [Afrikaans]; Alouette de Stark [French]; Starks kurzhaubenlerche [German]; Cotovia de Stark [Portuguese]

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Spizocorys starki (Stark's lark) 

Stark's lark, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Spizocorys starki (Stark's lark)  Spizocorys starki (Stark's lark) 
Stark's lark. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

Stark's lark, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Near-endemic to southern Africa, occurring from south-western Angola through Namibia to the Northern Cape and south-western Botswana. It generally prefers arid or semi-arid plains with scattered shrubs and grass tufts, especially with gravel or stones over sandy soil. 

Distribution of Stark'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.  

Movements and migrations

Nomadic, moving in flocks ranging from only 4-5 birds to several thousand, all of which diverge on areas which have experienced recent rainfall.

Food 

It mainly eats grass seeds supplemented with arthropods, doing its foraging on the ground, plucking food items from the sand. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Seeds
    • grass
      • Aristida
      • Brachiara glomerata (signal grass)
      • Enneapogon
      • Stipagrostis ciliata (Tall bushman grass)
      • Stipagrostis obtusa (Kortbeenboesmangras)
      • Schmidtia kalihariensis (Kalaharisandkweek)
    • forbs
      • Cleome
      • Giseckia
      • Galenia
      • Monsonia umbellata (Wilderabassam)
  • Arthropods

Breeding

  • The nest is a cup built of the white silky inflorescences and awns of grasses (especially Aristida and Stipagrostis), placed in an excavated hollow at the base of a shrub, grass tuft or rock. Occasionally it constructs the nest out in the open, especially in winter when it is not quite as hot.
Spizocorys starki (Stark's lark)  Spizocorys starki (Stark's lark)

Stark's lark at its nest with chicks, Maltahöhe, Namibia. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

Stark's lark with chick in nest. [photo Peter Steyn ©]

  • It can lay its eggs at any time of year, as it opportunistically breeds after heavy rainfall. However, egg-laying season usually peaks around March-May, coinciding with late summer rainfall and bushman grasses (Stipagrostis) setting seed.
  • It lays 1-7, usually 2-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 22-26 days.
  • The chicks are cared for by both parents, leaving the nest at about 20 days old. They usually fledge about 10 days later, becoming fully independent about 2 weeks later.

Threats

Not threatened.

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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