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Crested Lark

Galerida cristata (Linnaeus, 1758)

Хохлатый жаворонок | Айдарлы бозторғай
adult

2010-05-30
Karatau foothills, Taskol lake area
© Askar Isabekov

Description

The Crested Lark is well distinguished from other larks by the larger size and quite large crest on the head. Adult males and females are similar on color. The crown is brownish, grayish or grey buffy-tinged; with brownish streaks broader and darker on the crest. The nape and mantle are brownish or pale-brown-grey with faint brownish streaks. The uppertail is without streaks, often with fine buffy tinge. The supercilium is broad off-white. Two lines of little brownish spots continue from the low mandible on neck sides. The ear coverts are brownish or pale-brownish-grey. The throat is off-white. The breast is off-white with large brown streaks. The belly and undertail are white. The flanks are pale streaked. The upperwing coverts are brownish with broad pale edges. The flight feathers are dark-brownish or pale-brownish with broad pale edges. The axillaries and underwing coverts are pinkish-buffy. The central tail feathers are slightly narrow grayish ended; the second from center pair is darker brownish-grey; the third, fourth and fifth pairs are black-brownish; the outer webs of the fifth pair are pale-buffy; the outer sixth pair is grey-buffy with brownish shaft and base of the inner web. In winter plumage the webs of the coverts are broader and general color is lighter. Females are distinguished from males by the less size and less crest. Juveniles are brownish white spotted. On juvenile's growing the white spots on the feathers tips worn and become less. Length 180-190 mm; males - wing 98.2-114, tail 63-78; females - wing 97.3-111,6, tail 63.8-81.1 mm. Weight 24-51 grams.

Distribution

The Crested Lark inhabits the dry desert plains of Western and Southern Kazakhstan and also foothills of East and South-East. The detailed distribution in Kazakhstan please see in the chapter "Races".

Biology

The Crested Lark is generally common resident in Kazakhstan, yet rare in some areas. Inhabits deserts and low grassed semi-deserts, along roads, around villages, farms, and in foothills up to 1800-1900 m, rarely in saline habitats. Winters mostly near human settlements. Appears at breeding grounds very early, in southern areas from late February to early March, northern areas in March, in couples or small groups. Late spring migrants observed from mid April to early May at Chokpak Pass. Pairs breed separately. Nest is built on the ground in a shallow scrape under low vegetation and is constructed of dry grass stems and rootlets lined with scraps of vegetation. Clutches of 3 to 6, more often of 4 to 5 eggs, found from early April to early June. Only female incubates, for 10 to 12 days. Both parents feed juveniles, which fledge in mid May to early July. Two broods reared per year, repeated breeding after loss of first nest is common. Autumn movement in small groups begins from late August to early September. Mostly recorded at Chokpak Pass in October. Birds head to warmer southern areas to winter. The Crested Lark is one only Lark attached to human rather to cattle. On winter the Crested Lark never migrates. This time it most often resides at road sides; near horse dung and hay cratches. The specific features of the Crested Lark that it is almost not afraid the human and never joined in large flocks, even in winter and autumn. It eats mostly seeds. Gladly eats grains of millet, wheat, rye, barley; but eats it from the ground only because cannot take grains from the ears.

Subspecies

Galerida cristata tenuirostris (Brehm, 1858)

    Description. Upperparts are dark and more buffy; dark streaks on upperparts are broader than on other races.
    Distribution. Breeds in Western Kazakhstan, eastward up to Ural-Emba watershed and Utva-Ilek area.

Galerida cristata iwanowi (Loudon et Zarudny, 1903)

    Description. Upperparts are paler and more sandy; dark streaks on upperparts are narrower than on other races.
    Distribution. Breeds in southern Kazakhstan from Mangyshlak eastward up to foothills of Tien Shan and Dzhungarskiy Alatau; in north to northern coast of Aral Sea, Betpak-Dala and Zaysan depression.

Galerida cristata magna (Hume, 1871)

    Description. Upperparts are rusty-buff without sandy tinge.
    Distribution. Occurrence of individuals wandering on eastern areas of Kazakhstan near the boundary with China is possible.

References

"Птицы Казахстана" том 3. "Наука". Алма-Ата, 1970.
Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005.
Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999.
А.Ф.Ковшарь "Певчие птицы". Алма-Ата, "Кайнар", 1983.

supplement

subspecies

Galerida cristata tenuirostris
(Brehm, 1858)
information gallery
Galerida cristata iwanowi
(Loudon et Zarudny, 1903)
information gallery
Galerida cristata magna
(Hume, 1871)

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