The Rufous Songlark (Cincloramphus mathewsi) is a species of Old World warbler endemic to Australia.
It is a species of Sylviidae, the Old World Warblers, a successful passerine family. It shares the genus Cincloramphus with the Brown Songlark, another species endemic to Australia.
The Rufous Songlark was described by English ornithologist Tom Iredale in 1911. The generic name Cincloramphus is derived from Greek words cinclus/??????? "wagtail" and ramphos/?????? "beak", while the specific epithet honours Gregory Mathews.
As well as Rufous Songlark, other common names include Red-Rumped Songlark, Rufous Singing Lark, and Skylark.
The Rufous Songlark is medium brown passerine songbird with a pattern of streaks on its feathers. Encyclopedia Britannica describes this bird as "drab and vaguely larklike". It has a dark line through its eye, a pale eyebrow and pale underparts, and a rufous upper tail and rump. A little larger than a house sparrow, the male grows to about 19 cm in length and is larger than the female who reaches only about 16 cm.
This species is similar to the Brown Songlark but males of that species are much larger than those of the Rufous Songlark. Brown Songlarks females also lack the rufous rump of the Rufous Songlark female.
Distribution and habitat
Rufous Songlark in Victoria
The Rufous Songlark is common all over mainland Australia, but is rare on the island of Tasmania. The overall range of the songlark is thought to be in the order of between 1,000,000 and 10,000,000km2. C. mathewsi is most often found in New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia. Each year the Rufous Songlark spends colder months in the north and migrates south in the summer to breed, and in this way it typically is only seen in the warmer months.
The Rufous Songlark hunts close to the ground for the insects and other small arthropods upon which it feeds. The bird can be found in grasslands, grassy open woodlands, agricultural areas, and mulga that it favors as a habitat. Living in areas populated by humans, it sometimes ends up as road kill.
Outside the breeding period these birds form small flocks of up to two dozen individuals. In the breeding season the lively, unmistakable song of the male Rufous Songlark is heard almost continuously. He chirps and curves his back while going on slow, showy "display flights" between trees. The distinctive "twitchy tweedle" song of the Rufous Songlark has been included on CDs of "Favourite Australian Birdsong". Without help from the male, the female bird builds a deep nest of grass sheltered amid grass or low vegetation. She also incubates the eggs and raises the fledglings herself.
- BirdLife International 2004. Cincloramphus mathewsi. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 10 July 2007.
Pikedale, S Queensland, Australia
- Serventy, V.N. (ed) 1982. The Wrens and Warblers of Australia. Angus and Robertson and the Australian Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.
- Morcombe, M. 2000. Field guide to Australian Birds. Steve Parish Publishing.
- Simpson, K and Day, N. 1999. Field guide to the birds of Australia, 6th Edition. Penguin Books, Australia.
- Higgins, P.J., Peter, J.M. and Cowling, S.J. (eds) 2006. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 7 (Dunnock to Starlings) Part B Oxford University Press. Melbourne.