Christopher Taylor Bird Nature Wildlife Mammal Photography
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Black Lark Picture

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The Black Lark, Melanocorypha yeltoniensis, breeds in southeast Russia and Kazakhstan. It is partially migratory, with birds from the northwest of its breeding range moving south-east to winter further into Russia and neighbouring countries, as far as the northern Black Sea coasts in southern Ukraine.

This is a bird of open steppe, often near water. Its nest is on the ground, with 4-5 eggs being laid. Food is seeds and insects, the latter especially in the breeding season. It is gregarious in winter.

This is a large, robust lark, 18-20.5 cm in length. The adult male is unmistakable, being all black with some pale feather fringes on its back, and with a yellowish or pink bill. The female is undistinguished in comparison, mainly dark-blotched grey above and paler below. Her legs and underwing are black.

The song is like a frantic version of that of Skylark.


Black Lark is a very rare vagrant away from its breeding range, with records during both spring and autumn passage periods, and also in winter; the following is a complete list of European records away from the breeding range & normal wintering range at the time of writing (2005):

  • 1803 Italy A male at Alessandria, Piemonte on an unknown date in autumn
  • 19th Century Austria Three males, one shot, at Breitensee, Vienna, on an unknown date between 1857 & 1874
  • 1874 Germany A female on Heligoland on 27 April
  • 1892 Germany A male on Heligoland on 27 July
  • 1897 Moldova One in March
  • 1900 Romania One at Dobrogea in March
  • 1914 Turkey One at Küçükçekmece, Istanbul on 14 October
  • 1929 Malta One in winter
  • 1930 Greece One at Athens in spring
  • 1958 Greece A male at Athens on 20 April
  • 1961 Italy One at Manfredonia, Puglia, on 3 May
  • 1963 Greece A flock of eight at Lake Koronia on 20 February
  • 1964 Greece Two at the Axios Delta on 8 February
  • 1981 Czech Republic A male at Zakupy on 28 November
  • 1984 Great Britain (England) A male at Spurn, Yorkshire on 27 April
  • 1988 Poland One at Kosienice on 17 January
  • 1989 Finland A male at Joensuu on 24 March
  • 1989 Finland A male at Korppoo on 8 April
  • 1993 Sweden A male at Karlstad on 6 & 7 May
  • 1995 Bulgaria A female at Cape Kaliakra on 25 May
  • 2003 Great Britain (Wales) A male at RSPB South Stack, Anglesey from 1 to 8 June

An individual was also recorded on an unknown date (prior to 2003) in Lebanon.

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