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Horned Lark

Horned Lark

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Published by: Connecticut Wildlife Publication Library on May 27, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/12/2012

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W
ILDLIFE IN
C
ONNECTICUT
CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
q
WILDLIFE DIVISION
ENDANGERED AND THREATENED SPECIES SERIES
HORNED LARK 
Eremophila alpestris
Identification:
The brownish horned lark is bestidentified by its very distinctive head pattern: black“horns” (feather tufts), a white or yellowish face andthroat, a broad, black stripe under the eye, and a blackbib. The female is duller overall than the male and thehorns are less prominent. In flight, the most obviouscharacteristic is the mostly black tail with white outerfeathers. In winter plumage, the black areas on thehead and breast are partially obscured by pale edgings.The horned lark is larger than a sparrow.
Range:
In North America, the horned lark nests fromAlaska and Canada south to West Virginia, NorthCarolina, Missouri, Kansas and coastal Texas. Itwinters along the Gulf Coast.
Reproduction:
The horned lark nests in large, openareas that are barren, sandy, stony, or have sparsegrass cover. In Connecticut, the horned lark nests onbeaches and open areas, mostly along the coast.Breeding has also been documented in grassland areasat airports. Breeding usually begins in mid-June. Thecup-shaped nest is built on the ground in a shallowdepression, usually in the shelter of a plant tuft or stone.The nest is made of dry grass and plant stems, looselyput together, with a fine inner lining of plant down andhair. Small pieces of peat or pebbles may be assembledaround the nest or on one side of it. The 4 smooth,glossy eggs are pale greenish-white and heavilyspeckled with fine buff-brown; there is often a blackishhairline. The eggs are laid at daily intervals and incu-bated by the female for 10 to 14 days. After hatching,the altricial (helpless) young have brown skin and long,pale down. They are cared for by both adults and leavethe nest after 9 to 12 days.
Reason for Decline:
Horned lark populations havesteadily declined as dry, open uplands have reverted toforests or have been destroyed by development. As with
Life Expectancy:
Unknown; however, bandedskylarks (from the same family) have reportedly livedover 8 years.
Food:
Weed seeds, waste grains, caterpillars, ants,wasps, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, and spiders.
Status:
State threatened.
Habitat:
Large fields, open areas, shoreline beaches,grasslands, and agricultural areas.
 Weight:
Males, 1.13 ounces; females, 1.08 ounces.
Length:
7-8 inches.
 Wingspan:
12.25-14 inches.
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