basic information

Calandra Lark

Melanocorypha calandra (Linnaeus, 1766)

Степной жаворонок | Дала бозторғайы

Sorbulak. Almaty oblast.
© Askar Isabekov


The Calandra Lark is a large, Starling-sized, strongly built bird with short tail and strong bulbous bill. The coloration is typical on Larks; the upperparts are sandy-grey dark streaked and the underparts are off-white. On craw-sides there are two large black triangle-rounded patches sometimes connected on the craw. The breast is with dark streaks. The most obvious feature in flight is the dark wings with white terminal band, especially well appreciable on underwing. The tail is short and narrow because the bird usually folds tail even in the song-flight. Males and females are similar, but males are larger (wings lengths are not crossed). In autumn plumage the coloration is generally same but more buffy above because of fresh broad edges of feathers; dark patches on craw-sides are less on size and less obvious. Autumn juveniles are not distinguished from adults. Weight 53-73 grams, length 19-22, male wing 122-141, female wing - 115-122, wingspan 38-44 cm.


The Calandra Lark lives in the steppe and desert areas of Western Kazakhstan and also foothills and adjacent plains on the eastern and southern parts of the Republic. The detailed distribution in Kazakhstan please see in the chapter "Races".


The Calandra Lark is common, in places numerous, breeding migrant. Inhabits feather-grass/wormwood, grass/wormwood, fescue/wormwood and wormwood steppe, dry and flooded meadows, wheat, lucerne and clover fields, fallow lands, both on plains and in foothills up to 1300-2000 m. During migration occurs on stubble fields, lake shores and tracks in flocks of up to thousand of birds. Appears early, from mid February to early March, most birds migrating in March. Breeds in separate pairs 100-200 m apart. Nest is built in a shallow scrape under grass shelter and made of dry grass. Clutches of 3-6 eggs found in mid April to mid of May. Females incubate, though males also have a brood patch. Both parents feed juveniles, who fledge when 10-11 days old, from mid May to June. Repeated breeding after loss of first nest is common. The last singing males recorded in early July. Autumn migration begins in August, when many birds concentrate near lakes, artesian wells and other water sources, often with other lark species. Most birds depart in the second half of September to mid of October. Last flocks recorded in early – end November. In the southern areas the Calandra Lark winters in the breeding range.


Melanocorypha calandra calandra (Linnaeus, 1766)

    Description. Upperparts are darker, more brownish, less sandy-yellowish; the dark shaft streaks on the upperparts are broader than on psammochroa.
    Distribution. Breeds and occurs on migration in Western Kazakhstan from the lower Emba river and Mount Aktau in Utva-Ilek territory eastward to Turgay (near the Tusum sands) and north-west coast of the Aral Sea; south up to Western and Northern Ustyurt and Novaya Kazanka. Wandering birds observed in Kurgaldzhino 7 April 1985. Rare winters on Barsa-Kelmes island.

Melanocorypha calandra psammochroa (Hartert, 1904)

    Description. Upperparts are paler, more sandy-yellowish, less brownish; the dark shaft streaks on the upperparts are narrower than on calandra.
    Distribution. Breeds and also occurs on migration in South-East Kazakhstan from Syrdarya and Chu valleys, in north to the Zaysan depression. On 18-21 December 2003 huge amounts up to 20-30 thousand birds recorded nearby of Chardara reservoir.


Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005. В.К.Рябицев. "Птицы Урала, Приуралья и Западной Сибири". Екатеринбург, Изд-во Уральского университета, 2000. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999.



Melanocorypha calandra calandra
(Linnaeus, 1766)
Melanocorypha calandra psammochroa
(Hartert, 1904)

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