Larks form a family of birds, which is part of the order Passeriformes. The clutch contains from two to six eggs.
Sexual dimorphism is not pronounced. Larks are hardly visible birds. Larks' diet includes insects and seeds of various plants.
The family includes approximately seventy-five species. Representatives of these species inhabit the territories of Eurasia, Australia, Africa and America; on the territory of Russia, you can find fourteen species from the lark family.
Larks rarely sit on trees and shrubs, which is due to the special structure of the fingers. In addition, the hind toe is endowed with a rather long, straight claw resembling a spur (which also makes it difficult for larks to stay on thin branches).
A lark's nest is arranged on the earth's surface and carefully camouflaged. The clutch contains from two to six eggs. The eggs are incubated by the female for two weeks, after which completely helpless blind chicks are born. Males of the lark are capable of onomatopoeia.
Lovers of Russian nature cannot but know about the skylark. The skylark is a small bird (only slightly larger than a common sparrow), which is famous for its melodic and loud singing. The skylark historically inhabits the northwestern part of the African continent and the temperate zone of Eurasia. However, the first settlers who arrived in New Zealand and Australia acclimatized the skylark to these territories. Despite the fact that the color of the plumage of the lark does not differ in brightness, it is very attractive. The color of the plumage of the abdomen is white, the back is gray. Larks are endowed with a very broad chest, on which there are mottled brown feathers. The tail is bordered with white feathers, and on the head of this bird there is a small crest. In general, it can be noted that the lark has a protective coloration. This means that with the help of it, this bird has the ability to hide from enemies on the ground or grass (the lark disguises itself as the color of brown earth or withered grass). The male lark is somewhat larger and is capable of singing. In addition, males have an upright, proud posture.
The skylark is a small bird. As mentioned above, it is not much larger than a sparrow. The body length of the skylark is on average only eighteen centimeters, and its weight barely reaches forty grams.
Larks are great singers. The Russian field is always associated with the singing of a lark. The lark has a very clear and clear voice. Sometimes you are amazed how this bird can sing for hours. However, this is only a general impression. In fact, the duration of the song of the lark does not exceed ten to twelve minutes, after which the bird rests for some time. An interesting fact is that larks arrive in the middle lane in early spring, so some time ago it was their song that reminded the peasants that winter was over and agricultural work was ahead. A distinctive feature of the skylarks is the fact that these birds never begin to sing until the moment the sun rises. In Russia, there was a special holiday (it belongs to the pre-Christian ones), which was accompanied by the baking of figurines of larks. This holiday was timed to coincide with the arrival of the larks. At the same time, people repeated special incantations so that the harvest was abundant.
The skylark cannot be found in the forest. It's true. The forest is the only place that skylarks ignore. These birds prefer fields, mountains, steppes and meadows. It's not uncommon to see these birds swimming in sand or dust. Larks remember such places and subsequently return to them more than once in order to clean their plumage.
Skylarks are migratory birds. This is true only for those individuals that inhabit the northern territories of their natural range. Thus, larks nesting in the southern regions of their distribution range are characterized by a sedentary lifestyle. Starting in September, both old and young larks fly off to winter, and by mid-October almost no bird can be found at the nesting sites. For wintering, larks go to the northern regions of Africa, the southern territories of Asia and to the countries of Western Europe.
Males of larks are the first to arrive at nesting sites. They choose a place suitable for the nest, and after the appropriate choice is made, they make it clear to the rest of the individuals by loud singing that this place has already been taken. In the relationship between males, chases and short-term skirmishes are frequent, which occur at the borders of individual territories. Females arrive from wintering grounds a little later than males. Immediately upon arrival of females, pairs begin to form, and the female chooses the male already "with an apartment". The behavior of females can be described as secretive. They spend a significant part of their time on the ground. Joint construction of the nest usually ends in mid or late April. The nest is an ordinary basket of the simplest structure, which consists of stems of last year's grasses (the height of the nest barely reaches five centimeters). The nest is carefully camouflaged and it is quite difficult to find it. Sometimes it is located in a pothole, sometimes under a bunch of grass, sometimes it cleverly hides near a bump. However, the most ideal place for nesting for skylarks is considered to be sown with spring and winter fields. These birds cover the inner surface of the nest with down, horsehair or soft wool. Inside the nest is laid with soft wool collected by a bird, horsehair and down.
A clutch of larks contains from four to six eggs. The surface of the egg has a non-uniform color - there are small brown specks on a yellowish background. The average egg size is 23 x 17 millimeters. The female incubates eggs for two weeks. After this period, chicks are born. Their body is covered with a little down. Skylark chicks are born helpless and blind, but they grow very quickly. Within ten days after hatching, they leave the nest. And this is despite the fact that by this age they still cannot fly (this art becomes available to them only after a few weeks of life). Chicks also cannot feed on their own at ten days of age. After leaving the nest, the offspring hides in the grass. It is almost impossible to notice them. An interesting fact is that with the onset of June, a female skylark can lay a second clutch. The independent life of the chicks born this time begins in July.
The diet of larks is very diverse. As food of plant origin, larks consume seeds of various herbs and cereal plants (seeds of sparrow, pickle, bird buckwheat). Larks are always willing to eat seeds such as wild millet. During the ripening of cereals in the fields, larks often feed on wheat fields. Often they also raid the fields sown with oats. At the same time, barley and rye are clearly not popular among these birds. The reason is that these crops are more oily. Larks peck at small pebbles with seeds. They need them for better digestion of hard cereal seeds. Arriving at the nesting site in early spring, larks often eat only the grown crops. Thus, the birds replenish their body with vitamin food. Larks are not vegetarians, which means that their diet contains not only plant but also animal food. After the snow melts from the surface of the earth, larks get the opportunity to feed on various insects - these can be larvae, spiders, small bugs, butterflies pupae. The summer diet of larks includes mainly insects. Larks usually hunt on the ground. Thus, these birds do not catch those insects that climb to the tops of grass stems, and also do not hunt in flight. Dew is the main source of water for larks.
Larks are capable of onomatopoeia. In the song of larks, it is possible to distinguish the voice of not only other birds, but also, for example, steppe rodents. Moreover, by the sound content of the song (and larks very accurately convey sounds), specialists can reveal information about which birds the larks hibernated with. Sometimes the repertoire of larks is so diverse that it is difficult to separate its song from the croaking of frogs, the squeak of a tit, etc.
The skylark has a loud voice. The sound of this bird's song spreads for kilometers around. Several males, rising high into the sky, give rise to the feeling as if the sky itself is singing. It is very difficult to see these small birds themselves, they turn into unsightly dots. An interesting fact is that different males sing differently (although it is very difficult to judge this at first glance) - it depends on the individual capabilities of the singer, the age of the lark, and also his experience. In addition, according to the song of the lark, it is possible to determine from which region a given bird is - the knees of the song differ depending on the belonging of an individual to a particular geographic subspecies.
The singing of the larks ends abruptly. This is very amazing, it feels like a lark has been turned off. At the end of the song, the male rapidly falls down. However, it lands not where the female is directly, busy with incubating eggs, but close to this place, after which it gets to the nest already on the ground. Such a measure is necessary in order not to attract birds of prey to the female.
The lark is vulnerable in the sky. And to a much greater extent than on earth. The main enemy of larks is the hobby falcon. The latter hunts only in flight. That is why the skylark visiting the sky is an easy prey for the hobby falcon. True, the little lark, in principle, has the ability to escape. The well-known swift fall of a lark like a stone to the ground can serve as a means of escape. Despite this, large numbers of male larks die high in the sky. The lark has enemies on the ground, first of all, these are foxes, ermines, weasels and ferrets. In addition, crows and harriers often encroach on the eggs in the nest of the skylark, as well as on its defenseless offspring.
The lark can be tamed. Quite many lovers keep these birds in captivity. It is also tempting that, having tamed a young male lark, you can listen to his singing up to eight hours a day. The lifespan of larks in captivity reaches ten years. People live in nature much less. But still, only experienced poultry farmers can keep a lark, since it is very shy. It is necessary to maintain the necessary diet in detail. Otherwise, the famous song of the lark is unlikely to please the owner's house. Over time, with the right approach to keeping, a lark can even take food from its owner's hands.