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.