Chestnut-backed sparrow-lark

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Chestnut-backed sparrow-lark
Chestnut-backed sparrow-lark (Eremopterix leucotis melanocephalus) male.jpg
Chestnut-backed sparrow-lark (Eremopterix leucotis melanocephalus) female.jpg
both in Senegal
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Alaudidae
Genus: Eremopterix
Species: E. leucotis
Binomial name
Eremopterix leucotis
(Stanley, 1814)

see text

  • Loxia leucotis

The chestnut-backed sparrow-lark (Eremopterix leucotis) is a passerine bird which is a resident breeder in Africa south of the Sahara Desert.

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

The chestnut-backed sparrow-lark was originally placed in the genus Loxia.[2] Alternate names for this species include: chestnut-backed finch-lark and white-cheeked sparrow-lark.


Five subspecies are recognized:[3]

  • Senegal chestnut-backed finch-lark (E. l. melanocephalus) - (Lichtenstein, MHK, 1823): Originally described as a separate species in the genus Alauda. Found from Senegal and Gambia to central Sudan
  • E. l. leucotis - (Stanley, 1814): Found in southern and eastern Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and north-western Somalia
  • East African chestnut-backed finch-lark (E. l. madaraszi) - (Reichenow, 1902): Found from southern Somalia and Kenya to northern Malawi and northern Mozambique
  • E. l. hoeschi - White, CMN, 1959: Found from southern Angola and northern Namibia to western Zimbabwe
  • South African chestnut-backed finch-lark (E. l. smithi) - (Bonaparte, 1850): Found from southern Zambia and southern Malawi to eastern South Africa


Illustration of a pair

This is a small lark at 11 cm. The male is striking, with solid black underparts and head apart from brilliant white patches on the nape and behind the eyes. The upperparts and wings are chestnut with some dark streaking. The thick bill is grey.

The female chestnut-backed sparrow-lark is a drabber bird with heavily streaked buff-white underparts and head, and a white nape collar. The upperparts are chestnut with mottling. Young birds are like the female.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

This lark is a bird of open dry habitats.

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

It nests on the ground and lays one egg. Its food is insects and seeds.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Eremopterix leucotis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Eremopterix leucotis - Avibase". Retrieved 2016-11-18. 
  3. ^ "IOC World Bird List 6.4". IOC World Bird List Datasets. doi:10.14344/ 

External links[edit]