The Clapper Lark, Mirafra apiata, is a small passerine bird which breeds in southern Africa. It derives its name from the wing clapping which forms part of the display flight.
It has at least three distinctive subspecies which are considered by some authorities to be full species.
The Cape Clapper Lark, Mirafra (apiata) apiata, is found in southwestern South Africa, the Agulhas Clapper Lark, M. (a.) majoriae, in found in the southern Western Cape Province of South Africa as far east as Knysna, and, the Eastern Clapper Lark, M. (a.) fasciolata, in the rest of the range, which covers much of the drier parts of southern Africa in Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa. Fasciolata differs in display from the other forms, and has a better claim to species level classification than majoriae.
Fry, Keith and Urban, in The Birds of Africa, regard M. apiata as forming a superspecies with M. rufocinnamomea, the Flappet Lark, which is found further north.
Clapper Lark is a species of open grassland and savanna, with the two southern forms also inhabiting karoo, fynbos and fallow agricultural land.
This lark is a 15 cm long bird , with a brown crown, rich rufous underparts, and a strong bill. Cape Clapper Lark has grey upperparts and a grey face. Eastern Clapper Lark has brown upperparts (greyer in the north of its range), and Agulhas Clapper Lark has dark brown upperparts, although individual variation means that it cannot always be reliably distinguished from the nominate race.
The display commences with an ascending flight with wing flapping. Eastern Clapper Lark then parachutes down with trailing legs. Its call is an ascending pooooeeeee. Cape Clapper Lark has a slower wing clap, and its otherwise similar call is longer and rises in pitch more. Agulhas Clapper Lark has a fast wing clap, and a descending double whistled peeeooo call.
Clapper Lark is a skulking species, difficult to find when not displaying. It is not gregarious, and individuals tend to be seen in dry habitats feeding on the ground on seeds and insects.