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Crested Lark - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Chan
Cáceres, Spain
Galerida cristata


17–19 cm (6¾-7½ in)

  • Dark streaked grey upperparts
  • White underparts
  • Long spiky erectile crest
  • Reddish underwings

Flight outline shows broad rounded wings and a square tail.

Similar Species

Photo by Theo Mamais
Thessaloniki, Greece, July 2012

Eurasian Skylark and in Iberia and Africa Thekla Lark


Europe and Asia from Portugal to northeast China and eastern India; Africa to Niger.

Rare vagrant to the British Isles.


Formerly included Maghreb Lark from Morocco.


Photo by AJDH
Badaan Farm, Bahrain, March 2007

There are 35 subspecies[1]:

Photo by CannonS2
Israel, June 2009
  • G. c. nigricans: Northern Egypt (Nile Delta)
  • G. c. maculata: Egypt (Nile Valley from Cairo to Aswan and El Faiyum)
  • G. c. halfae: Egypt (Nile Valley south of Aswan) to extreme northern Sudan (Wadi Halfa)
  • G. c. senegallensis: Southern Mauritania, Senegambia and Guinea-Bissau to Niger
  • G. c. jordansi: Northern Niger (Aïr Mountains)
  • G. c. alexanderi (zalingei): Northern Nigeria to western Sudan and north-eastern Zaire
  • G. c. isabellina: Central Sudan (Kordofan to Nile Valley)
  • G. c. altirostris: Eastern Sudan (east of Nile Valley) and Eritrea
  • G. c. somaliensis: Northern Somalia, southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya
  • G. c. tardinata: Southern Arabia
  • G. c. chendoola: Foothills of southern Kashmir to east Pakistan, western and northern India and southern Nepal

Macrorhyncha is sometimes accepted as full species Maghreb Lark.


Open, dry country and cultivated land. Breeds on railway lines, harbours and industrial sites.

  • Specifically for Iberia:
    • Fine soils or sand
    • Sand dunes, Dry saltmarsh edges and humanised habitats like farmland, dusty car parks and tracks.
    • Percentage of woody vegetation cover usually very low and including substantial amount of bare ground. Can be near trees, these often Olive, Figs, Citrus, Carob or Almond.
    • Often occurring in small niches of suitable habitats


Shuffling gait when feeding.


Rather 'heavy' and flapping action with marked undulations.


It is a ground nester. The clutch consists of 2-3 eggs.


The diet includes weed seeds and insects.


The long flight song can be difficult to separate from Thekla Lark

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Recording by Alok Tewari
Dist. Gurgaon, Haryana, India, Feb-2013
Long call containing a variety of notes given by an individual perched on an excavated-earth mound.


Click images to see larger version


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
  3. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  4. Birdforum thread on habitat
  5. Wikipedia

Recommended Citation

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