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Are these Dunn's Larks? Sudan (1 Viewer)

tomjenner

Well-known member
A few days ago I was birding in the desert just north of Khartoum when I came across a loose association of larks. Several appeared to be Dunn's Larks, while most were Black-crowned Sparrow-Larks and a couple were Desert Larks. The main reason that I am doubting my identification is that I only saw male Sparrow-Larks, making me wonder if I was misidentifying the females as Dunn's. looking at internet pictures they are similar, but my birds certainly appear to look more like Dunn's. I think these are two different individuals, but I cannot be certain. Any help appreciated.
Thanks

Tom
 

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stuart winter

My Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Cups at WHL
I would go for Dunn's - the so-called "Mascara" mark cutting through the loral region is a good diagnostic fieldmark. Sparrow-larks also have dark centred greater coverts, whereas these birds have sandy-toned gcs...
 

STS

Well-known member
They lack the face pattern of Dunn's and also show the classic "chicken" billl of Black-crowned Finch-lark, as they used to be known. Size would also be useful, the 'Sparrow-larks' being really tiny.

Cheers, Thomas
 

tomjenner

Well-known member
Thanks for the comments. That would would mean that these birds photographed a little further north a couple of weeks ago must also be Black-crowned Finch-Larks as one of the birds is almost identical. We were pretty certain of our identification at the time, but now this must be in doubt. One of the photos shows the tail pattern which we thought was pretty distinctive for Dunn's Lark, having a dark line either side of the central tail feather. I would appreciate some comments on what I should be looking for to identify Dunn's Lark and to know what features make these birds Finch-Larks.
Thanks

Tom
 

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Brian J Small

Well-known member

tomjenner

Well-known member
You are not the only one to make the same mistake in mistaking a sparrow-lark for Dunn's (http://beauquenne.oiseaux.net/dunn.s.lark.2.html).
Thanks for the link and comments. That linked photo is one of the ones that I found when I searched with Google that most convinced me that mine were Dunn's Larks, as the bird is almost identical to mine. It highlights the problem of searching the internet for answers, when there are so many errors out there. I think I have a better idea what to look for now, though I know I will always find larks difficult.
Thanks

Tom
 

tomjenner

Well-known member

stuart winter

My Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Cups at WHL
Hi Brian,
Just for clarification, I would have sworn Dunn's on the marked dark line running through the lores as well as the plain sandy coverts with an absence of dark centres. There is also a distinctive primary projection which doesn't occur in BcSL. I've limited experience of these species in the field so I am on a learning curve...
S
 

tomjenner

Well-known member
I have been searching a bit more and found this (click) photo of a Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark in flight. It shows exactly the same tail pattern as the one in my photos, with brown central tail feathers with darker feathers either side and white outer-tail feathers. This is similar to the tail pattern of Dunn's Lark and was one of the features that led me to the original identification. Its odd that none of the books mention the separation of Dunn's and Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark when they share some features. I do remember that these were quite small larks. From what has been mentioned here it seems that Dunn's would stand out as being a little larger.
Learning all the time.

Tom
 
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STS

Well-known member
Hi Tom,
I have to say that the photo you've linked to in post 12 doesn't in fact appear to be of a Black-crowned Sp.-lark; more likely a Short-toed Lark to judge from the dark mark on the side of the breast.
While the tail pattern of Dunn's and Black-crowned may be superficially similar, the black sides on Dunn's is really striking. I'd never have thought the two species might be confused, Black-cr. being tiny as I said earlier, but things aren't always as easy as one would wish.
Cracking photos and thanks for posting.

Cheers, Thomas
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
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