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Lark Sparrow


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.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
5.9–6.7 in
15–17 cm
11 in
28 cm
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.
  • The oldest recorded Lark Sparrow was a male, and at least 9 years, 1 month old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in New Mexico.



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.



Insects and seeds.


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 Forager


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Lark Sparrow declined by about 35% between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 7.5 million, with 91% spending some part of the year in the U.S., and 65% in Mexico. Small numbers may breed in Canada. The species rates a 10 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Lark Sparrow is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.


Range Map Help

Lark Sparrow Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings


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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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