Skylarks- Hebridean Birds Sightings

Western Isles Birds Sightings - The skylark is a large lark. Its size is really in between a sparrow and a thrush, smaller than a starling


It has a distinctive appearance when in flight with its angular straight-edged wings and short tail

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It is streaky brown with a small crest, which can be raised when the bird is excited or alarmed, and a white-sided tail.

Skylark -  Western Isles Bird Sightings
Bird Overview - Skylark
Family
Alaudidae
Latin name
Alauda arvensis

 Population
Vulnerable - Red Listed


Similar Species
Corn Bunting
Meadow Pipit
Woodlark
Description

The skylark is a large lark. Its size is really in between a sparrow and a thrush, smaller than a starling.

It has a distinctive appearance when in flight with its angular straight-edged wings and short tail It is streaky brown with a small blunt brown and black streaked crest, which can be raised when the bird is excited or alarmed, and a white-sided tail. The skylark has whotosh over the eye and a buff breast. The outer tail feathers are white.


The grey underwings also have a white rear edge, visible in flight. It is renowned for its display flight, vertically up in the air. Its recent and dramatic population declines make it a Red List species.The legs are yellowish-brown and the bill is horn coloured.

Size
Length: 18-19 cm (7 - 71/2 ins) Wingspan: 30 - 36cm (12-14ins)

Habitat

These birds can be seen anywhere in the UK. Likes open countryside, from heaths to heather moors and upland grass. Often inconspicuous on the ground, it is easy to see when in its distinctive song flight.

Food

Skylarks eat seeds and insects, they forage on the ground in grass or on bare earth, eating seeds and shoots and grains as well as insects

Voice
Skylarks have a beautiful song that radiates through the air as they hang suspended overhead.

The Skylark is known for it's sweetsong when it is in flight. The male bird rises straight up from the ground high into the air where it remains still for several minutes,with just it's wings fluttering wings.

Then it almost parachutes back down to the ground. All the time it is in the air the bird continuously sings its liquid warbling song.

Breeding

The nest is a grassy cup on the ground made from grass and hair. The smooth, glossy eggs are greyish-white with heavy brown and olive spots, there are between three and five eggs which are about 23 mm by 17 mm.

Incubation is the shortest of any British breeding species and is performed by the female only. The young are fed by both parents. These birds can have up to 4 broods between April and July

Misc. Info

Skylarks have decreased over recent years due to intensive farming methods
The decline is most likely caused by the move to winter sowing of cereals, which deters late-season nesting attempts and may reduce winter survival because there is less stubble, such as barley and wheat, and also the use of pesticides, which kills the insects needed to feed the young.
Skylarks always land on the ground when they parachute down, unlike the pipits who often land in bushes and trees

British birds are mainly resident though birds breeding in upland areas and northern Scotland often move to lower altitudes for the winter. The resident bird population is sometimes boosted in the winter by birds from NE Europe


Helpful Bird Identification Tips
As a novice with bird identification - I was trying to determine whether a bird I had photographed was indeed a thrush, a pipit or a skylark and asked a specialist for his advice - this is the response - which I trust he wont mind my passing on the informationas it was very usefuk to me, for any persons new to bird identification aws as follows:-



"Your bird is a Skylark which are larger than Meadow Pipits with the streaking restricted to the breast. The bill is too heavy for a Meadow Pipit and it shows long wings. Thrushes aren't streaked above (unless they're very young) and never as much as in this bird. Below and thrush shows larger spots that would go all the way onto the belly rather than being restricted to the breast as in this bird."

 


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