LARK SPARROW

LARK SPARROW(Chondestes grammacus) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Lark Sparrow adult has a brown cap with a central beige stripe, and a brown back with darker streaks on the upper back. Wings and tail are brown, with white outer tail feathers. Under parts are light grey-whitish, with a small breast brown spot. Flanks are chestnut. Conical bill is grey-brown. Eyes are dark brown. There is a chestnut superciliary band starting from bill base. Cheeks are brown with a white band under, followed by a dark brown band on each side of throat (which is Legs and feet are pinkish grey. Sexes are similar. Juveniles have duller colors. Bird length is around 15 cm (6 inches).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Chondestes-grammacus
NAME: ‘Sparrow’ derives from Anglo-Saxon ‘Spearwa’, which means ‘flutterer’, and it has been applied to many small birds (Choate). ‘Lark’ was given to this bird likely because of its song. Latin genus name ‘Chondestes’ would mean ‘seed eater’. Latin species name ‘grammacus’ would mean ‘streaked’.
HABITAT: Open areas such as fields, prairies, often with bare ground.
DIET: Insects and seeds.
NESTING: Nest is built on the ground or in a shrub. Sometimes this sparrow will use another species nest. Around three to five whitish eggs are laid, incubated by female. Chicks fed by both parents.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds in south central Canada and western half of USA. Winters in Mexico. Year-round resident in Texas, northern Mexico and coastal part of south California.
Distribution Map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lark_sparrow – /media/File:Chondestes_grammacus_map.svg
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings listed as ‘accidental’ so far. See note below on bird vagrancy.
CONSERVATION: Numbers healthy in most of its range. However in British Columbia it is on the Red List due to loss of habitat and prey (due to use of pesticides).
NOTES: This sparrow is a ‘walker’ rather than a ‘hopper’.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Vesper Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow
REFERENCES: https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/lark-sparrow (Missouri Department of Conservation)
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/lark-sparrow
http://fieldguide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=ABPBX96010 (Montana Field Guide)
https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Chondestes_grammacus/ (University of Michigan)
https://www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife/birds/grassland-and-shrub-birds/lark-sparrow.html (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency)
http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/612/overview/Lark_Sparrow.aspx
https://birdatlas.mb.ca/accounts/speciesaccount.jsp?sp=LASP&lang=en (Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas)
http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/okanagan/esd/atlas/species/lark.html

Lark Sparrow - Amado, Az - Apr. 2007
Lark Sparrow – Amado, Az – Apr. 2007 – photo by Alan J. Wilson
Lark Sparrow - Sacramento, CA - Dec. 2017 - photo by ADJ82
Lark Sparrow – Sacramento, CA – Dec. 2017 – photo by ADJ82
Lark Sparrow with Chipping Sparrow - Rodeo, NM - Jan. 2018 - photo by Bettina Arrigoni
Lark Sparrow with Chipping Sparrow – Rodeo, NM – Jan. 2018 – photo by Bettina Arrigoni

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