Black lark

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Black lark
Stamps of Kazakhstan, 2013-65.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Alaudidae
Genus: Melanocorypha
Species: M. yeltoniensis
Binomial name
Melanocorypha yeltoniensis
(Forster, 1768)
  • Alauda yeltoniensis

The black lark (Melanocorypha yeltoniensis) is a species of lark in the family Alaudidae found in south-eastern Russia and Kazakhstan.

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

The black lark was originally placed in the genus Alauda.[2] The current genus name is from Ancient Greek. Melanocorypha is from melas, "black", and koruphos a term used by ancient writers for a now unknown bird, but here confused with korudos, "lark". The specific yeltoniensis is from Lake Yelton in the Volgograd region of Russia.[3]


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.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

This is a bird of open steppe, often near water. 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.

The 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 as of 2005.[citation needed]

An individual was also recorded on an unknown date (prior to 2003) in Lebanon.

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

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.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Melanocorypha yeltoniensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Melanocorypha yeltoniensis - Avibase". Retrieved 2016-12-15. 
  3. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 247, 412. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.