It is resident (non-migratory) apart from local movements in arid stony areas, and avoids flat sand. Its nest is on the ground in a rock crevice or amongst stones, with three or four eggs being laid. The desert lark eats seeds and insects, the latter especially in the breeding season.
This is a small lark at 15–16.5 cm in length. It is sand-coloured above and pale pinkish grey below, with a thick yellow-based bill. The tail is reddish brown with a diffuse dark terminal band.
The sexes are alike, but there is considerable geographical variation. For example, A. d. payni of southern Morocco is greyer above than nominate deserti, and has orange flanks. A. d. annae of north Jordan has dark grey upperparts, head and breast.
The song is a mournful choo-wee-chacha wooee, but it is otherwise quiet.
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