Ashy-crowned sparrow-lark

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Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark
Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark (Male) I IMG 8244.jpg
Male Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Alaudidae
Genus: Eremopterix
Species: E. griseus
Binomial name
Eremopterix griseus
(Scopoli, 1786)
Synonyms

Alauda grisea
Pyrrhulauda grisea

The Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark (Eremopterix griseus) also known as the Ashy-crowned Finch-lark or Black-bellied Finch-lark is a small sparrow sized member of the lark family. It is found in the plains in open land with bare ground, grass and scrub across South Asia. The males are well marked with a contrasting black-and-white face pattern, while females are sandy brown, looking similar to a female sparrow. Males are easily detected during the breeding season by the long descending whistle that accompanies their undulating and dive-bombing flight displays.

Description[edit]

Sparrow sized with a finch-like bill and short legs, these birds are usually seen sitting on the ground, and although they will sometimes perch on wires they do not perch in trees or bushes. The male is sandy brown overall with a black belly, chin, lower lores and eye stripe. The top of the head is ashy (although the base of these crown feathers are dark) unlike the dark brown to black in the Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark which partly overlaps with the range of this species in the arid zone of India and Pakistan. The female is pale brown and very similar to a female House Sparrow, although the legs are much shorter and appearing stockier and shorter-necked.[2][3]

Although some subspecies ceylonensis (from Sri Lanka) and siccata (from Gujarat) have been named, variations are mostly clinal and they are treated as a monotypic species.[4]

Habitat and distribution[edit]

This species is restricted to below 1000 metres elevation and is found south of the Himalayas to Sri Lanka extending to the Indus river system in the west and to Assam in the east. It is found in stubble, scrub, waste land, riverside sand and tidal flats on the coast. The avoid the interior of the desert zone, a habitat that is more likely to be used by the Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark. The two species overlap partly in range, although they are rarely seen together in the same locations. During the monsoon season, they withdraw from heavy rainfall regions.[2]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

These larks are found in pairs or small groups and form larger flocks in winter. They forage on the ground for seeds and insects. When disturbed they will sometimes crouch and take to flight. They will take fallen grains in fields.[5] They roost at night on the ground, making small depressions in the soil.[2]

The breeding is irregular and spread out although they breed before the rains mainly during February to September in southern India and May to June in Sri Lanka. The display of the male consists of a song flight that involves soaring up with some chirruping calls and then diving with partly closed wings and then rising up in a glide. This undulating flight is accompanied by a long low whistle at each dive and at the tip of each rise by a sharp chilp note. The display ends with the male descending at an angle and landing on a small mound or clod before repeating the performance after a few minutes.[6] The nest is a compact depression under a tuft of grass in the ground lined with grass and hair with some pebbles arranges on the edge. The usual clutch is 2 to 3 eggs and both males and female incubate the eggs. The eggs hatch after about 13 to 14 days[7] and both parents take turns to feed the young although the female is more active.[2][8][9][10][11]

In most birds, the right ovary is not fully developed; however, a study found 6 out of 150 specimens with traces of a right ovary although the oviduct was absent.[12]

In culture[edit]

The name in some Hindi dialects for the bird is dabhak churi, which means crouching sparrow. In British India, it was shot for the table and considered as "ortolan".[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Eremopterix griseus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Ali, S & SD Ripley (1986). Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan. Volume 5 (2 ed.). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 8–10. 
  3. ^ Oates, EW (1890). The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Volume 2. London: Taylor and Francis. p. 341. 
  4. ^ Mayr E & J C Greenway, Jr., ed. (1960). Check-list of birds of the world. Volume 9. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 32. 
  5. ^ Banu, Aziz; Singh, TGM (1980). "Ashycrowned Finch-Lark recorded feeding on rice grains". Newsletter for Birdwatchers 20 (9): 7. 
  6. ^ Law, Satya Churn (1924). "Some observations on Pyrrhulauda grisea". Ibis 66 (4): 645–647. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1924.tb05349.x. 
  7. ^ Mundkur, T (1985). "On the breeding of the Ashycrowned Finch-Lark Eremopterix grisea". Newsletter for Birdwatchers 25 (5-6): 13–14. 
  8. ^ Baker, EC Stuart (1926). The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 3 (2 ed.). London: Taylor and Francis. pp. 353–355. 
  9. ^ Santharam, V (1995). "Some observations on the ground nesting birds at the Adyar Estuary, Madras". Newsletter for Birdwatchers 35 (2): 24–25. 
  10. ^ Santharam, V (1980). "Some observations on the nests of Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Stone Curlew, Blackbellied Finch-Lark and Redwinged Bush-Lark". Newsletter for Birdwatchers 20 (6-7): 5–12. 
  11. ^ Hume, AO (1890). Oates, EW, ed. The nests and eggs of Indian birds. Volume 2 (2 ed.). London: R H Porter. pp. 243–247. 
  12. ^ Mehrotra, PN (1962). "A note on the sexuality of the right ovary in birds". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 59 (1): 291–294. 
  13. ^ Jerdon, TC (1863). The Birds of India. Volume 2. Part 1.. Calcutta: Military Orphan Press. pp. 424–425. 

Other sources[edit]

  • Shivanarayan,N (1978) Damage to Sorghum by Ashycrowned Finch-Lark. Newsletter for Birdwatchers . 18(3):10.
  • Shukla,RN; Shrivastava,M (1985): Some observations on nests and nesting behavior of three birds. Comparative Physiol. Ecol. 10(2):77-78.

External links[edit]