In the case of some lark species, as with Ash's lark it is hard to describe definitively without having to compare its characters with those of some of its close relatives. It is insufficient to say only that it is a small (14 cm in length) lark that has greyish-brown upperparts with paler edging to its mantle feathers; and having buff-coloured underbelly and underparts with brownish streaks, but a paler belly and vent; and with a light crest, and buff eyebrow stripes.
In order to give a complete, definitive description it must also be added that it is smaller than either the rufous-naped lark (M. africana), or the red-winged lark (M. hypermetra); that it is more greyish and marked on its mantle than either the singing lark (M. cantillans), or the pink-breasted lark (M. poecilosterna); and that its bill is not as thick as the former, and that it lacks the pinkish breast of the latter.
Its songs have yet to be identified.
Habitat and habits
Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland. When it is seen it is often running across bare ground between bunches of grass, prior to perching atop a tussock. It is threatened by habitat loss to coastal development.
At present there exists only a very sketchy understanding of M. ashi's ecological relationships at best.
Range and population
While there is a clearer understanding of its population and distribution than of its ecology, data from recent decades in this regard has been greatly lacking. Political unrest has prevented solid fieldwork in the region for many years.
Lying about 80 km north of Mogadishu), in south-eastern Somalia is the only place known that is home to M. ashi. It is a small area just north of Uarsciek. But even here, where it is locally common it is easily overlooked because it is also a home to nine other species of lark, such as the red-winged lark (M. hypermetra hypermetra) and the Somali long-billed lark (M. somalica rochei). It is possible that Ash's lark is also present somewhat to the north of its known range, along the coast, as much of this land is a still mystery to ornithologists.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Mirafra ashi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael (2003). Whose Bird? Men and Women Commemorated in the Common Names of Birds. London: Christopher Helm. p. 30.
- Compilers: Phil Benstead, Jonathan Ekstrom, Sue Shutes, Malcolm Starkey, Joe Taylor (2008). "Ash's Lark - BirdLife Species Factsheet". Evaluators: Stuart Butchart, Joe Taylor. BirdLife International . Retrieved May 5, 2009.