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The Woodlark (Lullula arborea) is the only lark in the genus Lullula. It breeds across most of Europe, the Middle East Asia and the mountains of north Africa. It is mainly resident in the west of its range, but eastern populations of this passerine bird are more migratory, moving further south in winter. Even in the milder west of its range, many birds move south in winter.
This is a 13.5–15 cm long bird of open heath with some trees, and other open woodlands, especially those with pines and light soil. Its generic name derives from its sweet plaintive song, delivered in flight from heights of 100 m or more.
Like most other larks, this is an undistinguished-looking species on the ground, mainly brown above and pale below, but with distinctive white superciliar meeting on the nape. In flight it shows a short tail and short broad wings. The tail is tipped with white, but unlike the Skylark, the tail sides and the rear edge of the wings are not edged with white.
The Woodlark is commemorated by two famous British poets for its beautiful song. In The Woodlark2 Gerard Manley Hopkins departs from the standard tradition of British nature poetry by trying to transliterate the bird's song into made-up words, saying:
- Teevo cheevo cheevio chee:
- O where, what can tháat be?
- Weedio-weedio: there again!
- So tiny a trickle of sóng-strain;
The Scottish poet Robert Burns writes of the bird's "melting art" in his Address to the Woodlark3. However, since the Woodlark is not currently found in Scotland, it is possible that he confused the Woodlark with another bird. Another possibility is that the bird, whose range has contracted but is now expanding4, was found in Scotland during Burns's era.
- Woodlarks in Lincolnshire Conservation Project
- Oiseaux images
- Ageing and sexing (PDF; 1.0 MB) by Javier Blasco-Zumeta & Gerd-Michael Heinze
- Field Guide Page on Flickr