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Lark Sparrow

Chondestes grammacus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A conspicuous sparrow of farmlands and roadsides, the Lark Sparrow has a bold face and tail pattern. With unusual courtship displays as well as plumage, it is like no other sparrow and is the sole member of its genus.

Yard Map Birds Eye View
Birds of North America Online

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
5.9–6.7 in
15–17 cm
Wingspan
11 in
28 cm
Weight
0.8–1.2 oz
24–33 g
Other Names
  • Bruant à joues marron (French)
  • Gorrión arlequín (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Unlike many songbirds, the Lark Sparrow walks on the ground rather than hops. It hops only during courtship.
  • A courting male Lark Sparrow crouches on the ground, holds his tail up at a 45 degree angle from the ground, spreads the tail feathers to show off the white tips, and then struts with its wings drooping so that the wingtips nearly touch the ground. When the female is receptive, the male gives her a small twig just before copulation.
  • The Lark Sparrow often takes over old mockingbird or thrasher nests instead of building its own. Occasionally the eggs and young of two species are found in the same nest, suggesting that the Lark Sparrow shares the nest with the other bird.

Habitat


Grassland

Breeds in open habitats, where grass adjoins scattered trees and shrubs, especially in poor or sandy soils. Park-like woodlands, mesquite grasslands, fallow fields with brushy edges, sagebrush.

Food


Seeds

Insects and seeds.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–6 eggs
Egg Description
Creamy white with dark spots and scrawls.
Condition at Hatching
Eyes closed and some down present.
Nest Description

Nest a thick-walled cup of grass, twigs, or weedy stems lined with finer grass or horse hair. Placed on ground or in a shrub or small tree.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Ground Forager

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Breeding Bird Survey data show a nationwide decrease in populations, especially in the eastern portion of its range.

Credits

  • Martin, J. W., and J. R. Parrish. 2000. Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus). In The Birds of North America, No. 488 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

Lark Sparrow Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings