The black lark (Melanocorypha yeltoniensis) breeds in southeast Russia and Kazakhstan. It is partially migratory, with birds from the northwest of its breeding range moving south-east to winter further into Russia and neighbouring countries, as far as the northern Black Sea coasts in southern Ukraine.
This is a bird of open steppe, often near water. Its nest is on the ground, with 4–5 eggs being laid. Food is seeds and insects, the latter especially in the breeding season. It is gregarious in winter.
This is a large, robust lark, 18–20.5 cm (7.1–8.1 in) in length. The adult male is unmistakable, being all black with some pale feather fringes on its back, and with a yellowish or pink bill. The female is undistinguished in comparison, mainly dark-blotched grey above and paler below. Her legs and underwing are black.
The song is like a frantic version of that of skylark.
Black lark is a very rare vagrant away from its breeding range, with records during both spring and autumn passage periods, and also in winter; the following is a complete list of European records away from the breeding range and normal wintering range at the time of writing (2005):
- 1803 Italy A male at Alessandria, Piemonte on an unknown date in autumn
- 19th Century Austria Three males, one shot, at Breitensee, Vienna, on an unknown date between 1857 & 1874
- 1874 Germany A female on Heligoland on 27 April
- 1892 Germany A male on Heligoland on 27 July
- 1897 Moldova One in March
- 1900 Romania One at Dobrogea in March
- 1914 Turkey One at Küçükçekmece, Istanbul on 14 October
- 1929 Malta One in winter
- 1930 Greece One at Athens in spring
- 1958 Greece A male at Athens on 20 April
- 1961 Italy One at Manfredonia, Puglia, on 3 May
- 1963 Greece A flock of eight at Lake Koronia on 20 February
- 1964 Greece Two at the Axios Delta on 8 February
- 1981 Czech Republic A male at Zakupy on 28 November
- 1984 Great Britain (England) A male at Spurn, Yorkshire on 27 April
- 1988 Poland One at Kosienice on 17 January
- 1989 Finland A male at Joensuu on 24 March
- 1989 Finland A male at Korppoo on 8 April
- 1993 Sweden A male at Karlstad on 6 & 7 May
- 1995 Bulgaria A female at Cape Kaliakra on 25 May
- 2003 Great Britain (Wales) A male at RSPB South Stack, Anglesey from 1 to 8 June
An individual was also recorded on an unknown date (prior to 2003) in Lebanon.
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