Friday 24 May
Bar-tailed lark (Ammomanes cinctura)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Bar-tailed lark fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Bar-tailed lark description
Discovered by Charles Darwin on the Cape Verde Islands off the north-west of Africa (3), the bar-tailed lark is a small, relatively plain songbird with a rounded head and a short bill (2). There are three recognised subspecies, which occupy separate locations and have slight differences in plumage. Subspecies Ammomanes cinctura cinctura is mostly tawny-rufous above, with a faint buff stripe above the eye, along with orange-rufous flight feathers with black tips on the wings and a black band near the end of the tail. The underparts are pale whitish-buff, with an orange tinge on the breast, while the bill is sandy pink and the legs are pale brown. Ammomanes cinctura arenicolor has paler upperparts, more sandy pink in colour with less black on the tail and flight feathers. Ammomanes cinctura zarudnyi is much greyer above and less white below, with a thicker tail band. The calls of the bar-tailed lark include a dry, purring “prrit” or “cherr” and a thin, descending “peeyu” or “see-oo” (2).
- Also known as
- Bar-tailed desert lark.
- Ammomanes cincturus.
- Ammomane élégante.
- Length: 14 cm (2)
- African Bird Club:
- BirdLife International:
- Ananimal with no backbone.
- A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
- IUCN Red List (June, 2009)
- del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2004) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 9: Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
- Steinheimer, F.D. (2004) Charles Darwin's bird collection and ornithological knowledge during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, 1831-1836. Journal of Ornithology, 145: 300 - 320. Available at:
- Tieleman, B.I., Williams, J.B., Michaeli, G. and Pinshow, B. (1999) The role of the nasal passages in the water economy of Crested Larks and Desert Larks. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 72: 219 - 226.
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Bar-tailed lark biology
The bar-tailed lark is most commonly encountered foraging on the ground, usually in small flocks when outside the breeding season, taking food from the surface and sometimes digging for invertebrate prey. This species mainly feeds on seeds and insects such as grasshoppers (2). In order to survive in the harsh desert environment, the bar-tailed lark is forced to seek shade during the hottest part of the day, sometimes using burrows of the large herbivorous lizard Uromastyx aegypticus for shelter (4). Although the bar-tailed lark is not migratory, individuals may disperse in search of less arid areas, especially during droughts (2).
The bar-tailed lark’s breeding season is determined by rainfall, with egg-laying generally occurring between January and April in north Africa, from September to June in the Cape Verde Islands, and mostly between mid-March and mid-April in the Middle East. The male attracts a mate by singing while flying in an undulating, roughly circular path, before making a steep descent to the ground. After establishing a breeding pair, the female constructs a nest which comprises a shallow depression in the ground beneath a rock or beside a stone, bordered by pebbles and lined with vegetation. A clutch of two to fours eggs is laid, which is incubated for around 12 to 14 days, after which time the chicks are brooded and fed insects by both parent birds. The chicks leave the nest after around 11 days and complete fledging roughly two to four days later (2).Top
Bar-tailed lark range
The bar-tailed lark has a wide, but fragmented distribution extending across northern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East. Subspecies Ammomanes cinctura cinctura is found only on the Cape Verde Islands, while Ammomanes cinctura arenicolor has a much wider distribution, being found across the Sahara desert from southern and eastern Morocco, east to Libya and Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula, with isolated populations occurring in Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan. Ammomanes cinctura zarudnyi occurs in eastern Iran, east to south Afghanistan and southern Pakistan (2).Top
Bar-tailed lark habitat
The bar-tailed lark mainly inhabits deserts with less than 100 millimetres of annual rainfall, but also occurs in semi-desert regions with stony or sandy soils and sparse or absent vegetation. While this species generally inhabits lowlands, it may also be found at elevations of up to 1,700 metres in Pakistan (2).Top
Bar-tailed lark status
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Bar-tailed lark threatsTop
Bar-tailed lark conservation
There are no known conservation measures currently in place for the bar-tailed lark (2).Top
Find out more
To learn more about the conservation of African birds visit:
For more information on this and other bird species please see:
AuthenticationThis information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgTop
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.