Woodlark

Lullula arborea

15cm

Appearance

The Woodlark has a crest that is occasionally lifted. It is mostly streaky and sandy brown above, pale below, with a buffish, streaked breast. There's a light-coloured supercilium and chestnut on the cheek area. There's a black and white patch near the edge of the wing, seen when perching, and the tail has a square end with white corners. When flying, the wings are wide and lack the Skylark's trailing edge. Juveniles resemble adults but the feathers have white edges which give a scaly effect.

Habitat

Prefers woodlands, new plantations, and heaths for breeding, and feeds on areas with cropped grass. where there are scattered trees and scrub. Feeds in similar territory to Skylarks during winter, often on agricultural land.

Character

When flying it can appear quite sluggish, and it flaps then glides, flaps then glides. Males perform songflight, flying in big circles then dipping to the ground. Usually eats on the ground, and may sing from there too, or may find a perch. When not breeding, forms flocks or stays in family groups.

Food

Spring and summer diet includes grasshoppers, thrips, moths, beetles and flies. Otherwise eats seeds, grasses and a variety of other plants.

Breeding

The first eggs are laid early, before the end of March, in a hollow nest. The clutch of 3-5 eggs are incubated by the female for 12-15 days, and both parents feed the young. After about 10-13 days, young can fly, but families remain together into autumn. Two or three broods may be laid in a year.

Population

Some birds remain in the region for winter, while others migrate to Europe. In excess of 3100 pairs breed in Britain.

Observation Tips

The song is perhaps the Woodlark's most appealing attribute; it sings most often early in the morning or as the sun is going down. To hear it, the best places to visit are heathland areas in Surrey or Hampshire during April.

Voice

The Woodlark's yodelling song is most often heard between March and June: 'deet-lueee'. Has other melodious calls, including 'lu, lu, lu' sounds.
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