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Lark Bunting

Calamospiza melanocorys ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A common sparrow of the Great Plains, the male Lark Bunting is distinctive with its black body and white wings. It is the only sparrow that changes completely out of a bright breeding plumage into a drab winter one.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
5.5–7.1 in
14–18 cm
Wingspan
11 in
28 cm
Weight
1.1–1.8 oz
30–51 g
Other Names
  • Bruant noir et blanc (French)
  • Gorrión cañero, Gorrión alipálido, Llanero alipálido (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Immature Lark Buntings flock together and stay on the breeding grounds longer than do adults.
  • The Lark Bunting often comes to drink out of water tanks provided for livestock. While the water may be helpful, the tank can be a dangerous place. Large numbers of buntings often drown in the tanks, especially in those containing mats of algae. Domestic cats also hunt there; one cat in Kansas caught 17 Lark Buntings in one day.
  • The oldest recorded Lark Bunting was a male, and was at least 4 years, 10 months old when he was found in Arizona, the same state where he had been banded.

Habitat


Grassland

Plains, prairies, meadows and sagebrush. Winters in cultivated lands, brushy areas, and desert.

Food


Insects

Insects, seeds, grain, and some fruits.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–6 eggs
Egg Description
Unmarked light blue.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless with sparse gray down.
Nest Description

Loose bowl of grass, fine roots, and plant stems, lined with fine grasses or hair. Placed in scrape on ground, rim level with ground. Usually under shrub.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Ground Forager

Feeds on ground; strongly avoids feeding under cover. Some flycatching.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Lark Bunting populations declined by 5.4% per year between 1966 and 2014, resulting in a cumulative decline of 93%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 9.1 million with 98% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 56% in Mexico, and 2% breeding in Canada. The species rates a 12 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Lark Bunting is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species and is listed a Common Bird in Steep Decline on the 2014 State of the Birds Report.

Credits

Range Map Help

Lark Bunting Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

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