Breeding of Greater Short-Toed Lark
Greater Short-Toed Lark is a small passerine bird that breeds in southern Europe, north-west Africa and across temperate Asia from Turkey and southern Russia to Mongolia. It is sometimes considered con-specific with Calandrella cinerea. During migration they form large flocks that fly in synchrony and at other times they form loose flocks.
Category of Greater Short-Toed Lark
There are several subspecies that have been named but there is considerable geneflow and the species itself forms part of a larger complex.
Structure of Greater Short-Toed Lark
Greater Short-Toed Lark is a small pale lark, smaller than the Skylark. It is dark-streaked greyish-brown above, and white below and has a strong pointed bill that is pinkish with a grey culmen. It has a pale supercilium, dark patches on each side of its neck and a dark tail. Some birds in the west of the range have a rufous crown.
Sexes of Greater Short-Toed Lark
The sexes of Greater Short-Toed Lark are similar. Subspecies longipennis is paler than dukhunensis which also has a shorter bill. In winter they fly in large and compact flocks that swing in synchrony. Care must be taken to distinguish these species from other similar Calandrella larks, such as the lesser short-toed lark, Calandrella rufescens.
Breeding Areas of Greater Short-Toed Lark
The nominate form of Greater Short-Toed Lark breeds in Europe (Iberia, France, Italy, the Balkans and Romania) and winters in Africa. Subspecies hungarica breeds in the eastern parts of Europe while rubiginosa breeds in north-western Africa. Greater short-toed lark breeds in Turkey, Syria and Egypt. Subspecies artemisiana of Greater Short-Toed Lark breeds in Asia Minor and it also breeds in winter in southern west Asia. Subspecies longipennis breeds in Ukraine, Mongolia and Manchuria and winters in South Asia mainly in the drier zone of north-western India while dukhunensis breeds on the Tibetan plateau and winters mainly in Indian state.
Songs of Greater Short-Toed Lark
The song of Greater Short-Toed Lark varies between a dry twittering and a more varied and imitative melody.
Behaviour of Greater Short-Toed Lark
Greater Short-Toed Lark is found in flocks that will often fly together to water in the mornings at favourite spots. In the evenings, Greater Short-Toed Lark roost in open ground, with each bird squatting in a small depression made in the soil.
Population of Greater Short-Toed Lark
The southernmost populations of Greater Short-Toed Lark are migratory, wintering south to the southern edge of the Sahara and India. This species is a fairly common wanderer to northern and western Europe in spring and autumn. Populations breeding in the Iberian Peninsula winter south of the Sahara in Africa. Here they prefer crop land and dry pastures with short shrubs while the Syntopic Lesser Short-Toed Larks (Calandrella rufescens) prefer drier areas.
Nests of Greater Short-Toed Lark
Greater Short-Toed Lark is a common bird of dry open country and cultivation. It nests on the ground, laying two to three eggs. The food of Greater Short-Toed Lark is seeds and insects, the later especially in the breeding season.
Migration of Greater Short-Toed Lark
Greater Short-Toed Lark visits parts of South Asia in large flocks during winter and is sometimes attracted to short grass areas along aerodromes and become a bird strike risk to aircraft.
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