I am amazed by how confusing bird ID can get sometimes. Good example is the one here – Lark!
Read on to know more about this ‘Size Zero’ beauty from the North Western part of the Indian sub-continent.
Tal Chappar, where this image was created is every nature and wildlife enthusiast’s recurring destination. Barely 200 kms from Jaipur, the Tal Chappar blackbuck sanctuary is on the fringe of the Great Indian Desert. It is a refuge for the blackbucks and a variety of resident and migratory birds.
Even in November, the temperatures slightly soar-up by mid afternoon in this part of Rajasthan. Afternoon being the best time to make some high shutter speed (fast action) images of blackbucks, we were driving around in our safari vehicle inside the sanctuary. We spotted a small bird beautifully erect on a mud mound at a distance and didn’t waste a moment to get there. As we moved closer, we identified this bird as a ‘Lark’ – not a ‘pipit’ or a ‘sparrow’.
Larks, especially this one has one unique feature and that is it’s crest. Larks and pipits look alike but crest is a clear differentiator, then came the next question – is this an Oriental Skylark (most common across the sub-continent)? Or a Syke’s Lark (may occur here)? Or the Crested Lark (which is found only here and upwards)? Upon closer look, I was glad that this was the must see (for me) Crested Lark, which occurs only here and upward regions of the NW of the sub-continent.
Lark’s have some amazing characteristics and one such not so common trait of the Crested Lark is that it is largely vegetarian – feeding primarily on grains and seeds, such as oats, wheat and barley. Now you know the secret behind the ‘Size Zero’. On a serious note, birds are largely opportunistic feeders and Crested larks are no exception. They too feed on insects and beetles in particular especially during breeding for the much needed proteins.
The crest you see here is just a crest of feathers that rise up, especially during singing, territorial or courtship displays. Yes, they are largely territorial and mostly non-migratory birds.
Call recording of this little beauty below: (source Xeno-canto)
More on other larks in upcoming short blogs.
Happy reading! Geese, Praveen Ashok