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Rufous-naped Lark - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by GarethH
Rietvlei Dam NR, Gauteng, South Africa, June 2006
Mirafra africana


Adult with juvenile on the right
Photo © by mikemik
Ngorongoro, Tanzania, May 2018

16–20 cm (6¼-8 in)
A large Lark that varies geographically, but rufous wings and a short crest are consistent features.


Sub-Saharan Africa:
Western Africa: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola
Eastern Africa: Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi
Southern Africa: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Swaziland



There is considerable geographic variation; 23 subspecies have been recognised1.

  • M. a. sharpii: North West Somalia (Silo Plain, Tuyo Plain and Bankisah)
  • M. a. kurrae: Sudan (Kurra and Darfur provinces)
  • M. a. bamendae: West Cameroon
  • M. a. stresemanni: North Cameroon (Ngaoundéré)
  • M. a. henrici: Guinea to Liberia
  • M. a. batesi: Niger to Nigeria
  • M. a. ruwenzoria: East Democratic Republic of the Congo to south-western Uganda
  • M. a. athi: Central Kenya (Nairobi and Nakuru) to north-eastern Tanzania
  • M. a. harterti: East Kenya (Ukamba)
  • M. a. occidentalis: West Angola (Huila escarpment north to Kisama)
  • M. a. gomesi: East Angola (Macondo) to north-western Zambia (Kabompo)
  • M. a. kabalii: North East Angola (Luiacana) and western Zambia (Balovale)
  • M. a. pallida: Namibia (Windhoek north to Kaokoveld and Ovamboland)
  • M. a. ghansiensis: Namibia and western Botswana
  • M. a. chapini: South Democratic Republic of the Congo and north-western Zambia
  • M. a. transvaalensis: South East Botswana to Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa
  • M. a. isolata: Malawi (Mangochi District)
  • M. a. grisescens: West Zambia to north-western Zimbabwe and northern Botswana
  • M. a. africana: South Natal to eastern Cape Province
  • M. a. tropicalis: South Uganda to western Kenya and northern Tanzania
  • M. a. nigrescens: North East Zambia (Lundazi) and southern Tanzania (Ukinga and Njombe)
  • M. a. nyikae: Nyika Plateau (easterb Zambia and Malawi)
  • M. a. malbranti: Central and southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (Djambala, Petianga and Kasai) to south-eastern Gabon

Sibley & Monroe2 recognised M. a. sharpii as a separate species (which they called Somali Lark, and others have called Sharpe's Lark).


The Rufous-naped Lark is found in a wide range of savanna and grassland habitats.



Solitary or in pairs. Forages on the ground, mainly for invertebrates, but also for seeds.


Monogamous and territorial. The nest is a cup of dry grass with a partial or complete dome, built on the ground, normally against a grass tuft. Two to three eggs are laid (July to April in southern Africa).


Mainly a tree tree-leeoo whistle.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Sibley, CG and BL Monroe. 1996. Birds of the World, on diskette, Windows version 2.0. Charles G. Sibley, Santa Rosa, CA, USA.
  3. Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ & Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Robert's Birds of Southern Africa, 7th edition. John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa. ISBN 0620340533
  4. Sinclair I & Ryan P. 2003. Birds of Africa south of the Sahara. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0620207299
  5. Birdforum thread discussing the taxonomy of Sharpe's Lark

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