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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Horned Lark

Eremophila alpestris ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: ALAUDIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The only true lark native to North America, the Horned Lark is a common, widespread bird of open country.

Optics Planet birding kit
Be a Better Birder Tutorial 4

Appearance

Sparrowlike
Sparrowlike
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Small songbird.
  • Pale brown back.
  • Black chest patch.
  • Black face patch.
  • Yellow or pale throat.
  • Small "horns" on top of head.

Immature Description

Juvenile sparrow-like, with pale spots on back and streaks on chest. Immature shows face pattern, but fainter than adult.

Range Map Help

Horned Lark Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  • Adult male

    Horned Lark

    Adult male
    • Medium-size, long-winged songbird
    • Short, stubby bill
    • Yellow face with black mask and "mustache" and black band at base of throat
    • Black "horns" raised above crown by breeding males
    • © Ken Schneider, Kane County, Illinois, March 2010
  • Adult female

    Horned Lark

    Adult female
    • Small, slender songbird with long, pointed wings
    • Stubby bill
    • Pale, sandy brown above, whitish below
    • Faint yellow wash on face and black band on upper breast
    • © Jim Farley, Camp Pendleton, California, June 2011
  • Adult male

    Horned Lark

    Adult male
    • Medium size, stocky, long-winged songbird
    • Short, stubby bill
    • Yellow and black facial pattern more muted in winter
    • Black band at base of throat contrasts with pale white underparts
    • © Cameron Rognan, Ovid, New York, January 2009
  • Adult female

    Horned Lark

    Adult female
    • Small, stocky songbird
    • Female shows pale yellow wash on face and faint streaks on breast
    • Pale brown above with faint black collar at base of throat
    • Short, stout gray bill
    • © Ian Davies, Hadley, Massachusetts, February 2011
  • Adult male

    Horned Lark

    Adult male
    • Long-winged and stocky with squared-off tail
    • Pale brown above, white below
    • Black mask and "mustache" on pale yellow face
    • Black band at base of throat
    • © Jim Paris, Arrowhead Road, Northhampton County, Pennsylvania, March 2009
  • Adult female

    Horned Lark

    Adult female
    • Small songbird with short, stubby bill
    • Patterned in pale brown above
    • Long wings
    • Pale yellowish wash on face with black collar around upper breast
    • © Tim Lenz, Seneca Falls Fairgrounds, New York, April 2010
  • Adult male

    Horned Lark

    Adult male
    • Stocky, long-winged songbird
    • Square-off tail
    • Pale brown above
    • Golden face with black mask and "mustache" and black band on upper breast
    • © Kurt Hasselman, Alpha, New Jersey, February 2010

Similar Species

  • Adult

    American Pipit

    Adult
    • Similar to Horned Lark but more slender, with longer tail
    • Longer, thinner, pointed bill
    • Dark streaks on underparts
    • Contrasting white throat
    • © Dave Wendelken, Silver Lake, Rockingham County, Virginia, February 2010
  • Adult

    Smith's Longspur

    Adult
    • Stockier than Horned Lark and darker and more patterned overall
    • Buffy wash on breast and belly
    • Dark crown
    • © Andy Johnson, Twin Lakes Rd, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, July 2011

Similar Species

  • American Pipit lacks black markings and horns.
  • Longspurs have shorter tail with more white on outer edge, and lack horns.