Horned Lark Identification

The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    Horned Larks are small, long-bodied songbirds that usually adopt a horizontal posture. They have short, thin bills, short necks, and rounded heads—the shape sometimes broken by two small “horns” of feathers sticking up toward the back of the head.

    Relative Size

    Larger than a Savannah Sparrow; smaller than an Eastern Meadowlark.

    Relative Sizesparrow or smallersparrow-sized or smaller
    Measurements
    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 6.3-7.9 in (16-20 cm)
      • Weight: 1.0-1.7 oz (28-48 g)
      • Wingspan: 11.8-13.4 in (30-34 cm)

Regional Differences

Horned Larks vary in color across North America. Some arctic-breeding birds have little or no yellow on the head, while Eastern and south Texas breeders have the head extensively yellow. Those breeding along the Pacific coast tend to be a brighter rufous on the nape, upper back, shoulders, and sides; elsewhere they are a sandier brown.