"' CARD 311 I

REED WARBLER
V GROUP 2: BIRDS
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ORDER
Passeriformes
FAMILY
Sylviidae
GENUS &: SPECIES
Acrocephalus scirpaceus
The reed warbler is a small, shy bird that looks so much like the
marsh warbler it usually takes an expert to tell them apart.
The two species are most easily distinguished by their song.
KEY FACTS
SIZES
Length: 4l1-5 in.
Weight: y' -l1 oz.
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: 1 year.
Breeding season: Begins in mid-
April or in mid-June, depending on
the bird's location.
No. of broods: 1-2.
Eggs: 3-5, usually 4.
Incubation: 11-12 days.
Fledging period: 10-14 days.
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Shy and secretive.
Diet: Aquatic insects and larvae.
Call: Harsh "churr-churr" inter-
spersed with trills.
Lifespan: Up to 12 years.
RELATED SPECIES
There are 27 species in the genus
Acrocephalus, including the similar
marsh warbler, A. palustris, and the
sedge warbler, A. schoenobaenus.
Breeding range of the reed warbler. Winter range.
DISTRIBUTION
The reed warbler breeds in Europe from Scandinavia in the north
eastward to Kazakhstan. It winters in tropical Africa.
CONSERVATION
The reed warbler is still locally common in many places. How-
ever, the drainage of land for development is steadily reducing
this bird's habitat.
FEATURES OF THE REED WARBLER
Plumage: Varies, depending on
the season and the bi rd's age.
Generally brown above and
buff below. Legs are dark.
Sexes are similar.
Feet: Dark brown, with long,
hooked claws for curling
around reed stems.
MCMXCII IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILE'"
Head: Rounded,
with a whitish
throat. Slightl y
longer bill than
that of the marsh
PRINTED IN U.S.A
Eggs: 3 to 5.
Glossy, pale
green with
darker spots.
Young: Born feath-
erless. The early
plumage has more
yellow than the
adult's. Bright
yellow mouth.
0160200991 PACKET 99
The reed warbler is a summer visitor to Europe, where it nests
among reeds and other water plants. This bird migrates to
Africa for the winter. There it molts its feathers before making
the long return flight to breed in Europe. During one part of
this journey, while still in Africa, the reed warbler may cover
as much as 620 miles within a period of only four days.
HABITAT
The reed warbler is found most-
ly in marshes or on the edges of
ponds and lakes. It lives among
reeds, bulrushes, sedges, and
other plants with their roots in
water. These plants form dense
clumps that are difficult to pen-
etrate. As a result, they help to
protect the bird from a num-
MIGRATION
The first reed warblers start to
migrate south in late August
and early September. By then,
the young can fly well enough
to survive the arduous 5,000-
mile journey from the European
breeding grounds to Africa.
The birds fly over the north-
ern coast of Africa and eventu-
ber of its land-based predators.
In some parts of Europe, the
reed warbler has become accus-
tomed to humans and builds its
nest on farmland. However, this
is relatively unusual.
Right: The reed warbler curls its
long, hooked claws around reeds
and rushes.
ally settle in tropical wetlands
in the central part of the conti-
nent. There they molt, shedding
their worn plumage, and find
plenty of insect food.
Reed warblers gather to head
north in early April. They return
to the same breeding sites they
left the year before.
FOOD & FEEDING
The reed warbler eats insects
that it finds among the plants
where it lives. Its diet commonly
includes caddisflies, stoneflies,
and alderflies-which all breed
near water.
This agile little bird hops from
plant to plant, moving up and
down the stems in search of its
prey. It also hovers over the wa-
ter to catch flying insects or to
snatch water striders and whirli-
Left: The reed warbler uses the po-
sition of the moon to find its way
when migrating at night.
DID YOU KNOW?
• A cuckoo often lays an egg
in the reed warbler's nest. The
cuckoo egg looks like the reed
warbler eggs, but it is larger.
The cuckoo hatches first and
pushes the warbler's eggs or
chicks out of the nest.
• Given its small size, the reed
gig beetles from the surface. In
addition, it takes insect larvae
that crawl up from the water
onto reed stems.
In late summer and early fall,
the reed warbler feeds on ripe
berries and large quantities of
reed aphids. In this way, it builds
up a store of fat to sustain it on
its flight to Africa. The dwindling
supply of insects signals the bird
that it is time to migrate.
Right: An inquisitive bird, the reed
warbler investigates the slightest
rustlings among the reeds.
warbler has a long lifespan-
up to 12 years.
• No other European warbler
makes a nest as intricate as the
reed warbler's. A pair disman-
tles its old nest to furnish a new
one and may even steal mate-
rials from other birds' nests.
BIRDWATCH
The reed warbler is not easy
to spot because it spends a
great deal of its time hidden
among dense clumps of wet-
land plants. This bird is much
easier to identify by its song.
It trills and chirrups while it

The reed warbler begins breed-
ing in mid-April in the south of
its range and in mid-June farther
north. Both the male and female
build the nest. After gathering
grass, reeds, flowers, and leaves,
they weave these around rooted
stems. When finished, the nest is
deep and cylindrical, lined with
feeds, both by day and night.
Song is also one of the few
ways to distinguish the reed
warbler from the rarer marsh
warbler. The song of the lat-
ter is louder and more musi-
cal than the reed warbler's.
grass, roots, wool, or feathers.
Although in warmer regions
the female may lay two clutches,
in cooler areas she only has time
to lay one. The three to five eggs
are pale green and glossy with
dark spots. Both sexes incubate
the eggs for 11 to 12 days, tak-
ing turns so that each partner
can look for food.
The featherless young have
bright yellow mouths, which
they hold open constantly for
food. Fed insects by both par-
ents, the nestlings grow quickly.
They are fully fledged at 10 to
14 days old.
Left: The nest is very deep to pre-
vent the eggs or young from being
swept out in strong winds ..
'" CARD 312 1
NORTHERN WHEATEAR
" GROUP 2: BIRDS
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". ORDER ". FAMILY ". GENUS &; SPECIES
~ Posseriformes ~ Turdidoe ~ Oenonthe oenonthe
The northern wheatear is one of Europe ~ earliest spring migrants.
Flying in from its winter quarters in Africa or Iraq, it sometimes
reaches the Mediterranean coast by early February.
KEY FACTS
SIZES
Length: 5 ~ - 6 in.
Wingspan: 10-13 in.
Weight: ~ - 1 oz.
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: 1 year.
Breeding season: April to August.
No. of broods: Often 2 in lowland
areas. Usually 1 in uplands.
Eggs: Usually 5-6, pale blue.
Incubation: 2 weeks.
Fledging period: About 2 weeks.
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Solitary; migratory.
Diet: Mainly small invertebrates;
also berries and seeds.
Lifespan: Oldest banded bird,
7 years.
RELATED SPECIES
There are 18 species of wheatear in
North America, Eurasia, and Africa.
These include the pied wheatear,
Oenonthe pica to, and the desert
wheatear, O. deserti.
Range of the northern wheatear.
DISTRIBUTION
Breeds in Europe, Asia, Greenland, northern Canada, and Alas-
ka. Winters in Africa and Iraq.
CONSERVATION
The northern wheatear is not under any great threat. But it is
declining widely as its upland habitats are increasingly used for
public recreation and conifer planting.
I FEATURES OF THE NORTHERN WHEATEAR
Female: Same
plumage year-
round. Brown
back and wings,
creamy white
underparts.
White rump
like male's.
Tail: Dark tip
and central
plumes form
upside-down
T mark that is
visible when
fanned.
© MCMXCII IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM
Male: Black wings and tail. In summer,
medium blue back and creamy under-
parts with rich buff breast. In winter,
resembles the female with brown up-
perparts and creamy white breast.
Bill: Black. Thin
and sharp, ideal
for pecking at
seeds and small
invertebrates.
Eggs: Pale blue. 5 or 6
per clutch, laid in a
nest of grass, hair,
and feathers.
PRINTED IN U.S.A. 0160200971 PACKET 97
The northern wheatear spends most of its time on or near
the ground in open country. This lively little bird is always
on the move, flitting between low perches such as boulders
and shrubs. A typical bird of the uplands, the northern
wheatear nests among the rocks and chases insects and
other small invertebrates across the windswept turf.

The northern wheatear nests in
Greenland, Canada, and Alaska,
as well as in Europe and Asia. It
prefers open habitats with low
vegetation. But it can also be
found from the stony slopes of
high mountains to the sparsely
vegetated Arctic coastal tundra.
One place where the wheat-
ear has suffered habitat loss is
Great Britain. There the bird of-
ten nested on lowlands, such as
chalk downs, where the grass
was kept short by grazing ani-
mals. But grazing in these areas
has declined, and the land has
been cultivated or overgrown
with scrub. As a result, there are
only a few lowland sites where
British birds can nest today.

The northern wheatear arrives at
its European breeding grounds
as early as February, before most
other migrants. The male estab-
lishes and defends a breeding
site. He attracts females by hop-
ping, bowing, and gently war-
bling. The birds often pair up
with the same mate each year.
In much of northern Europe,
the wheatear nests in holes in
roadside walls. At times it nests
Left: A hole in a stone wall makes a
snug, safe nesting site for the north-
ern wheatear.
DID YOU KNOW
• After they leave Greenland,
migrating northern wheatears
fly directly to Spain, covering a
distance of over 1,850 miles.
• The name of the wheatear
has nothing to do with ears or
wheat. It comes from the Old
English for "white taiL"
among boulders on high, ex-
posed sites or in an abandoned
rabbit burrow in lowlands.
The female builds the grassy
nest, lining it with feathers and
hair. She lays five or six eggs,
usually in May, and does most
of the incubation. The chicks
hatch in two weeks and fledge
two weeks later. By late August,
most northern European birds
have begun migrating south.
Right: On lowland moors the north-
ern wheatear may be able to raise
two broods before migrating.
• Wheatears in Dungeness on
the southern coast of England
use old sheets of corrugated
iron as nest sites.
• At one time shepherds on
British chalk downs trapped
large numbers of northern
wheatears to sell for food.
BIRDWATCH
The northern wheatear's most
distinctive feature is its white
rump with the dark T-shaped
mark on the tail. This is clearly
visible when the tail is fanned
or the bird takes flight.
Europe has two forms of
FOOD &: FEEDING
The northern wheatear feeds
primarily on invertebrates such
as caterpillars, beetles, flies, ear-
wigs, grasshoppers, centipedes,
spiders, and snails. In addition,
the wheatear eats some grass
seeds as well as small fruits such
Left: The northern wheatear may
perch on a low shrub or boulder
and then dart out in pursuit of prey.

Many European species leave
for Africa after they breed. But
the northern wheatear is distinc-
tive because birds from all parts
of the range, including Canada
and Greenland, cross huge dis-
tances to winter in Africa or Iraq.
Wheatears from Greenland
northern wheatear-the Eur-
asian and Greenland races.
The latter is larger and more
richly colored than the Eur-
asian race. It also has longer
wings to sustain its lengthy
migration flights.
as blackberries and bilberries.
When foraging, the bird runs
or hops over low ground cover,
pausing periodically to pick up
food or scan the area ahead. It
also flutters and hovers over one
spot, rather like a kestrel. It prob-
ably does this in order to get a
good view of the ground when
the grass is especially long.
and Canada head southeast to
Europe and then on to Africa.
Alaskan populations cross the
Bering Strait and then fly over
Asia and Europe before arriving
at their wintering grounds.
The birds fly mainly at night,
usually alone or in small groups.
RED JUNGLEFOWL
ORDER
Galliformes
CLASS
Phasianidoe
GROUP 2: BIRDS
GENUS &: SPECIES
Gallus gallus
The red junglefowl lives in the forests of India, Pakistan, and
Southeast Asia. It looks like a farmyard chicken and is believed
to be the ancestor of the world domestic poultry.
__ __ F_A_C_T_S _____ _________ -J
SIZES
Length: Male, ft. Female,
1 ft.
Weight: Male, 1 lb. Female,
lb.
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: 1 year.
Breeding season: March to May
in most areas.
Eggs: 5-6, pale buff to pale red-
dish brown.
Incubation: 18-20 days.
Fledging period: 12 days.
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Active in daytime. Roosts
in small groups in trees. Male de-
fends the breeding territory.
Diet: Seeds and fruits, as well as in-
sects and other invertebrates.
RELATED SPECIES
There are 3 other species of jungle-
fowl, all of them found in southern
or southeastern Asia.
Range of the red junglefowl.
DISTRIBUTION
Inhabits southeastern Asia from northeastern Pakistan and India
north to the lower Himalayas and east through Myanmar (Bur-
ma) to the islands of Sumatra, Java, and Bali.
CONSERVATION
The red junglefowl has adapted to thrive near humans. Despite
many centuries of being hunted, it survives in good numbers.
FEATURES OF THE RED JUNGLEFOWL
Hackles: Erected in display
during breeding season.
Male: Russet-gold upper plumage with deep
green and reddish underparts. Long green
tail feathers.
c MCMXCII IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.S.A.
Female: Buff upperparts, russet
underparts. "Cape" of yellow and
black feathers around neck. Smaller
than the male and lacking his
long tail feathers.
A sharp claw at the back of each
leg is used to fight rivals. Fights
are usually ritualized, so serious
injury is avoided.
0160200951 PACKET 95
The red junglefowl is a small pheasant that makes its home
in tropical and subtropical forests. Its appearance is very
similar to that of its descendants, the farmyard chickens.
The red junglefowl also has many habits in common with
domestic chickens, including the practice of scratching
around on the ground for food, the pecking order within
flocks, and the early morning crowing of the cock.
HABITS
The red junglefowl is most of-
ten found in forests with heavy
undergrowth or stands of bam-
boo. When searching for food,
it may venture into scrubland,
clearings, and cultivated areas
such as rice paddies.
Like domestic poultry, the red
junglefowl takes dust baths, roil-
ing on the ground and flutter-
ing its wings to work soil and
sand into its feathers. This helps
condition its plumage and re-
move parasites from its skin.
The red junglefowl generally
forages from dawn until mid-
morning. It rests in the shade
during the hottest part of the
day and resumes feeding from
midafternoon until dusk. Then
it flies into a tree to roost, usual-
ly in small groups of about five
individuals. But up to 30 birds
have been seen perched on a
bamboo stem.
Right: A dust bath helps to keep
the red junglefowl healthy by re-
moving parasites.

The red junglefowl breeds in late
winter or spring. The male per-
forms various displays to chal -
lenge rivals, claim a territory, or
attract females. He lowers one
wing while circling a female. He
then flaps his wings, erects the
hackles (long feathers) on his
neck, and shakes his head.
The male also crows loudly, es-
pecially in the morning, to pro-
claim his territory and assert his
position in the flock. During the
breeding period, the male crows
slightly earlier every morning.
Subtle differences between the
Left: The cock crows to stake out
a territorYt warn off rivals, and at-
tract a mate.
DID YOU KNOW?
• The world's most abundant
birds, domestic chickens, are
descendants of the red jungle-
fowl. There are over eight bil-
lion chickens, outnumbering
humans by about two to one.
• In many myths in India, the
male junglefowl brings two
lovers together.
• Domesticated junglefowl,
"cock-a-doodle-doo" calls of
males may help rivals to identi-
fy one another.
"Tidbitting"- pecking at a bit
of food or other object on the
ground- is a form of sexual dis-
play used by the male. It is also
used by the female to attract
her chicks to food and strength-
en her bond with them.
The female builds a nest on
the ground in dense cover and
incubates the eggs alone. The
hatchlings can run around with-
in a few hours and follow their
mother from the nest site.
Right: The chicks remain close to
their mother until they are able to
fly from danger.
like other domesticated birds
such as ducks and geese, do
not lay a fixed number of eggs
in one season. Instead, they
replace any eggs that are re-
moved. Selective breeding has
produced hens that lay eggs
almost daily, and there is a rec-
ord of one hen that laid 371
eggs in one year.
RED JUNGLEFOWL &: MAN
Humans domesticated the red its role in religion and its use in
junglefowl in India in 3200 B.C. cock fighting, not because of
It was domesticated in Egypt by its meat and eggs. The Romans
1500 B.C. and in China by 1400 had a poultry industry, but there
B.C. Afterward, it spread to Eu-
rope and may have reached the
Americas from Asia by way of
Ecuador's and Peru's coasts.
The domesticated junglefowl
became widespread because of
FOOD &: FEEDING
The red junglefowl eats leaves,
shoots, petals, nuts, fruits, ber-
ries, and over 30 kinds of seeds.
Its diet includes bamboo seeds
and shoots plus such crops as
rice, corn, beans, and tapioca. It
also feeds on a variety of inver-
tebrates, including beetles, ter-
mites, ants, flies, spiders, snails,
and millipedes. In the dry sea-
son, it visits water holes both
morning and evening.
The red junglefowl generally
goes out alone to scratch in the
was no subsequent large-scale
industry until the 19th century.
Settlers have introduced wild
red junglefowl into such coun-
tries as Australia, New Zealand,
and South Africa.
leaf debris for food. But flocks
of up to 50 may gather to feed.
The flock has a "pecking order"
in which dominant birds have
access to the best feeding sites.
The junglefowl swallows grit
to help break up seeds and oth-
er tough food in its thick-walled
gizzard-the muscular part of
a bird's stomach. In Myanmar
(formerly Burma), in areas where
gems are mined, sapphires and
rubies have been found in jun-
glefowl gizzards.
'" CARD 314 I
EUROPEAN ROLLER
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.. ORDER
"11IIIIIIII Coraciiformes
FAMILY
Coraciidae
GENUS &: SPECIES
Coracias garrulus
The European roller gets its name from the rolling and tumbling
display flights with which it defends its territory and attracts a
mate. During these displays, the bird utters loud, raucous cries.
KEY FACTS
SIZES
Length: 12-13 in.
Wingspan: 2 - 2 ~ ft .
Weight: 4-6 oz.
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: 1-2 years.
Breeding season: May to August.
No. of broods: 1.
Eggs: 3-5, glossy white.
Incubation: 17-19 days.
Fledging period: About 4 weeks.
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Mostly solitary, except in
the early stages of migration.
Diet: Mainly insects; occasionally
snails, earthworms, lizards, frogs,
and other small animals.
Breeding range of the European roller. Winter range.
DISTRIBUTION
Call: A wide variety of harsh, crow-
like or chattering calls.
The European roller breeds in the countries that border the
Mediterranean as well as in parts of eastern Europe and west-
ern Asia. Populations winter in Africa, mainly in the east.
Lifespan: 9 years or more.
CONSERVATION
RELATED SPECIES
There are 8 other species in the
genus Coracias-all found in the
Old World.
The European roller has declined in number in the northwest-
ern parts of its range.
FEATURES OF THE EUROPEAN ROLLER
Bill: Slightly
dqwnward-
curving to
help catch
insects.
Flight: The roller gets its mIme from
the way in which the male rolls over
in flight to attract a female.
Eggs: White,
smooth, and
glossy. 3 to 5
generally laid
in a tree hole or
abandoned nest.
© MCMXCII IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.S.A.
Plumage: Mainly bright blue-green
with a chestnut back and black
primary wing feathers. Long tail
feathers fan out in flight.
0160200951 PACKET 95
The European roller is a conspicuous bird, with its beautiful
blue-green and chestnut plumage flashing in the sun. This
bird often stations itself on a prominent perch such as a
dead branch or a telephone wire and watches for prey.
Then it swoops down to snatch insects and other small
animals on the ground. The European roller also hunts
prey in midair., descending on swarms of flying insects.
~ H A B I T S
The European roller spends most
of its time on its favorite perch,
scanning the ground for prey.
Its short legs make it clumsy on
land, and it moves only short
distances, hopping awkwardly.
However, it is a strong, aerobat-
ic flier, with long, broad wings.
During the breeding season,
the roller is found in open oak
woods and pinewoods contain-
ing old, hollow trees with holes
for nesting. It also inhabits thick-
ets, parks, and tree-lined river-
banks. In Turkestan, which is in
the southwestern part of the
former Soviet Union, this bird
frequents steppes, semideserts,
and even barren deserts.
~ FOOD & FEEDING
The European roller eats mainly
insects, especially large beetles,
crickets, and grasshoppers. On
occasion, however, it also feeds
on other small animals. These
include centipedes, slugs, spi-
ders, earthworms, snails, frogs,
and small lizards.
The bird often hunts from a
perch up to 16 feet above the
ground. It glides down to seize
prey in its strong bill and then
Left: The European roller is similar
in build to a jackdaw, with a slight-
ly down-curved bill.
DID YOU KNOW?
• The European roller eats cer-
tain insects that have an espe-
cially foul taste. These include
various beetles, glowworms,
goat moth caterpillars, and
some poisonous centipedes.
• The name of the European
roller's species comes from the
Latin word garrulu5, meaning
"talkative." It refers to a roller
ascends to a nearby perch. It
beats large insects to kill them
and make them easier to eat.
Or it may toss prey in the air
and catch it again in its bill.
The European roller also feeds
in midair-especially in Africa,
where it often preys on swarms
of flying termites and ants. In
dry areas where grass fires oc-
cur, it eats the charred remains
of insects and other animals.
Right: The European roller prefers
to nest in an existing tree hole or
abandoned nest.
pair's habit of "talking" to one
another with frequent calls.
• The European roller aggres-
sively defends its eggs as well
as its young, attacking crows
and even birds of prey.
• The European roller is a rela-
tive of two other spectacular
birds: the European kingfisher
and the hoopoe.
The European roller is highly ter-
ritorial. In the breeding season
the male performs various dis-
plays to claim a breeding area
and attract a mate. In one mat-
ing ritual, two or more birds face
one another on a branch. With
tails fanned and wings drooped,
they bow deeply, utter hoarse
cries, and then wipe their bills
against the perch.
The best-known ritual is a dra-
matic aerial display, usually per-
formed by a male. Flying slowly
and steeply upward, he makes
a series of harsh calls. Then he
left: The male and the female look
alike. It is the male that displays to
attract a mate.
almost stalls before tipping for-
ward and diving in a sharp de-
scent while flapping his wings,
tilting his body from side to side,
and making rattling calls.
The roller usually nests in a
tree hole or abandoned nest,
but it sometimes uses a grass
bank, cliff burrow, or crevice in
an abandoned building. A pair
may use the same nest site for
several years.
Altho·ugh both sexes incubate
the eggs, the female spends the
most time, sitting on the eggs all
night and much of the day for
nearly three weeks. Both parents
rear the chicks. However, the
male catches most of the food.
HORNED LARK
,,-
ORDER
Passeriformes
FAMILY
Alaudidae
GROUP 2: BIRDS
GENUS &: SPECIES
Eremophila alpestris
The horned lark is a widespread bird in North America, where
it often nests in barren regions. An early breeder, it sometimes
incubates its eggs while there is still snow on the ground.
KEY FACTS
SIZES
Length: 7-8 in.
Wingspan: 12-14 in.
Weight: 1-1 ~ oz.
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: 1 year.
Breeding season: February to July.
No. of broods: 1-2.
Eggs: 4, speckled with brown.
Incubation: 10-14 days.
Fledging period: 16-18 days.
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Sociable outside the breed-
ing season.
Diet: Seeds, fruit, and insects.
Call: Shrill, rippling song is a com-
plex series of tinkling notes uttered
in flight or at times from a perch
on the ground.
Lifespan: Unknown.
RELATED SPECIES
There are about 80 species in the
lark family Alaudidae.
Resident range of Winter
the horned lark. range.
----",.".....-
DISTRIBUTION
Breeding
range.
North American races breed throughout the continent. Eur-
asian races breed from Scandinavia to northern Siberia and in
central Asia. Northern breeders migrate south in winter, but
southern breeders are resident. Isolated populations occur in
Morocco and Colombia.
CONSERVATION
Common in the U.S. and may be increasing in Eurasia.
r
FEATURES OF THE HORNED LARK
Female
Plumage: Pinkish brown above, with
paler underparts. Yellow face and
throat, with black breast band and
cheeks. Female lacks black "horns" and
is duller than the male.
Eggs: Usually 4.
Pale brown,
heavily speckled
with d a r ~ bmwA.
© MCMXCII IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.S.A.
"Horns": Short
black feathers on
the sides of the
male's crown.
Bill: Slender, for
eating seeds, in-
sects, and fruit.
Male
0160200941 PACKET 94
In North America, the horned lark nests in many
different kinds of habitats. This bird can be found not
only in open pastures, cultivated fields, prairies, and
rocky ridges but also in deserts and on shores. In Europe
and Asia, however, where this species is known as the
shore lark, the bird nests only in the treeless tundra
of the far north and on high mountain slopes.
~ CHARACTERISTICS
About the size of a thrush, the
horned lark is a typical bird of
open country. Mostly pinkish
brown above, it is paler below
and has a boldly patterned black
and yellow head. Black feathers
on the male's head taper into a
pair of tiny "horns," giving the
bird its American name.
Although the bird is called the
shore lark in Europe, it is usually
found on Eurasian beaches, salt
marshes, and sand dunes only
in winter. In the breeding sea-
son it nests in Arctic tundra and
on high mountain slopes.
In North America the absence
of other lark species enables the
bird to colonize a wide range of
open habitats, including farm
fields, prairies, deserts, and air-
ports. In contrast to the patchy
distribution of the 14 Eurasian
subspecies, the 27 North Amer-
ican subspecies are common
throughout the range.
~ BREEDING
In migratory populations, the
male horned lark usually reaches
the breeding grounds before the
female and immediately begins
to defend a territory. Competing
males lower their heads, raise
their black "horns," hunch their
backs, and droop their wings. A
male may also sing from a perch
to claim a territory.
On a female's arrival, the male
frequently courts her by strutting
around her with "horns" erect
and offering her food. Climbing
to heights of up to 900 feet, he
may then perform song flights,
gliding to the ground as he ut-
Left: Over its enormous range, the
horned lark has evolved 41 differ-
ent subspecies.
DID YOU KNOW?
• In North America the differ-
ent local names for the horned
lark include the road chippie,
road trotter,spring bird, and
wheat bird. In England the
bird is also called the sea lark,
snowbird, and snowflake.
• High in the Himalayas, the
horned lark can be found at
elevations up to 17;500 feet,
ters his tinkling, warbling song.
The female constructs a cup-
shaped nest of grasses and hair
in a natural hollow. Or she may
scrape out a hollow with her bill
and feet. She usually chooses a
site sheltered by grass or a rock
so that the entrance faces away
from the wind and sun.
The female lays four eggs at a
rate of one a day. She incubates
them alone, but her mate may
feed her. The young hatch with-
in two weeks and are fed mostly
insects by the female. Like other
larks, the young leave the nest
about a week before they can fly.
Right: The female usually hatches
four chicks, which are fledged in
16 to 18 days.
on the edge of the snow line.
• Between the 1950s and the
1970s, the numbers of horned
larks that visited Great Britain's
coasts in fall and winter great-
ly increased, but the numbers
then dropped off. At the peak
about 1,500 birds were seen
annually, but now only about
100 appear each year.
~ I BIRDWATCH
The horned lark is identifiable
by its flight. It nearly closes its
wings between each beat, so
its outline alternates between
a slim shape and a cross. The
bold black-and-yellow pattern
of its face is also distinctive, as
is its clear call.
~ FOOD & FEEDING
During the winter, the horned
lark feeds on the ground, eating
mostly seeds and fruits. Close to
the shore it feeds in flocks at low
tide on the seeds of glasswort, a
salt-marsh plant. At high tide it
often moves to dunes, where it
finds a variety of seeds. It may
move a short distance inland to
feed on waste grain, grass seeds,
Left: In summer the horned lark
supplements its diet of seeds and
fruit with insects.
Wintering horned larks trav-
el in flocks, frequently forag-
ing with snow buntings and
longspurs on barren fields, at
airports, and even on parking
lots where a few weeds have
managed to grow in cracks in
the pavement.
and weed seeds on farm fields
and pasture. Although a flock
may have favorite feeding areas,
the birds frequently forage along
long stretches of coastline.
In the spring and summer, the
horned lark supplements its diet
with shoots and buds as well as
insects such as crane flies, ants,
midges, and beetles. It also eats
other invertebrates, including
earthworms, spiders, and small
mollusk species.

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