Sky LarkAlauda arvensis

Hanne & Jens Eriksen/VIREO
adult, alarmed
Stuart Elsom/VIREO
Sky Lark



7-7 1/2" (18-19 cm). Light earth-brown above, with heavy, dark streaking; buff below, with lighter streaking. Outer tail feathers and belly white. Elongated crown feathers sometimes raised in small rounded crest.


Utters a beautiful, trilling song high in the sky that may last for several minutes. Calls trly or prrit. Also mimics other birds.


Grasslands and fields.


Native to Eurasia, northern Africa. Introduced to southern Vancouver Island in British Columbia and San Juan Islands of Washington.


The dense rain-forest habitat of much of the Northwest prevents the Sky Lark (often called the Eurasian Skylark) from spreading far from Vancouver Island, where a few pairs were introduced early in this century; it has colonized only the grassy slopes of the neighboring San Juan Islands. This bird's most notable feature is its clear, trilling, often canary-like song. Rising in arcs ever higher until almost out of sight, the songster flutters and sings continuously for three or four minutes, then folds his wings and falls like a stone toward the center of his territory.


3 or 4 brown-spotted whitish eggs in a grass nest in a ground scrape.

Similar Species

adult (light)

American Pipit

6-7" (15-18 cm). A sparrow-sized, slender brown bird of open country. Crown and upperparts uniform brown; underparts buff with streaks; outer tail feathers white; legs usually black.


Sprague's Pipit

6 1/4-7" (16-18 cm). Sparrow-sized. A slender-billed, streaked bird with white outer tail feathers, yellow legs. Rarely bobs its tail.


Cassin's Sparrow

5 1/4-5 3/4" (13-15 cm). Fine brown streaking on grayish-brown head and back; dingy buff unstreaked underparts, with faint streaking on lower flanks occasionally visible. Sexes look alike.

adult male, breeding

Lapland Longspur

6-7" (15-18 cm). Sparrow-sized. The only longspur in most of the East.

adult male, breeding

McCown's Longspur

5 3/4-6" (15 cm). Sparrow-sized. Breeding male streaked above, with black crown, whitish face, and black "mustache"; gray below with bold black band across breast.

adult male, breeding

Chestnut-collared Longspur

5 1/2-6 1/2" (14-17 cm). Sparrow-sized. Similar to Lapland Longspur, but breeding male has wholly black underparts and some white on its face.

adult male, breeding

Smith's Longspur

5 3/4-6 1/2" (15-17 cm). Sparrow-sized. Breeding male streaked dark brown and buff above, clear warm buff below; bold black and white head pattern.


Vesper Sparrow

5-6 1/2" (13-17 cm). A grayish, streaked sparrow with white outer tail feathers, narrow white eye ring, and a small patch of chestnut on bend of wing.

adult male, Interior West

Horned Lark

7-8" (18-20 cm). Larger than a sparrow. Brown, with black stripe below eye and white or yellowish stripe above, black crescent on breast, and black "horns" (not always seen). Walks rather than hops.


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