Thekla's lark

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Thekla's lark
Thekla lark (Galerida theklae ruficolor).jpg
G. t. ruficolor, Souss-Massa National Park, Morocco
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Alaudidae
Genus: Galerida
G. theklae
Binomial name
Galerida theklae
Brehm, AE, 1857

See text

  • Galerita Theklae
  • Galerida malabarica theklae

Thekla's lark (Galerida theklae) breeds on the Iberian Peninsula, in northern Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Somalia. It is a sedentary (non-migratory) species. This is a common bird of dry open country, often at some altitude. Thekla's lark was named by Alfred Edmund Brehm in 1857 for his recently deceased sister Thekla Brehm (1833–1857). The name is a modern Greek one, Θέκλα (Thekla), which comes from ancient Greek Θεόκλεια (Theokleia) derived from θεός (theos, "god") and κλέος (kleos, "glory" or "honour").[2] The population is declining in Spain, but this is a common bird with a very wide range and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being of "least concern".[1]

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

Thekla's lark has several East African subspecies that show deep genetic divergence both among themselves and from the Mediterranean populations and are consequently strong candidates for consideration as separate species.[3] Formerly, some authorities considered the Thekla lark to be a subspecies of the Malabar lark. Alternate names for Thekla lark include short-crested lark and Thekla crested-lark.[4]


Twelve subspecies are recognized:[5]

  • G. t. theklae - Brehm, AE, 1857: Also known as Iberian Thekla's lark. Found in Portugal, Spain, Balearic Islands and extreme southern France
  • North Moroccan Thekla's lark (G. t. erlangeri) - Hartert, 1904: Found in northern Morocco
  • Central Moroccan Thekla's lark (G. t. ruficolor) - Whitaker, 1898: Found in central and north-eastern Morocco, northern Algeria and northern Tunisia
  • G. t. theresae - Meinertzhagen, R, 1939: Found in south-western Morocco and Mauritania
  • Hauts Plateaux Thekla's lark (G. t. superflua) - Hartert, 1897: Found in eastern Morocco, northern Algeria and eastern Tunisia
  • North African Thekla's lark (G. t. carolinae) - Erlanger, 1897: Found in eastern Morocco through the northern Sahara to north-western Egypt
  • G. t. harrarensis - Érard & Jarry, 1973: Found in eastern Ethiopia
  • G. t. huei - Érard & Naurois, 1973: Found in south-central Ethiopia
  • Abyssinian Thekla's lark (G. t. praetermissa) - (Blanford, 1869): Found in southern Eritrea to central Ethiopia
  • Somali Thekla's lark (G. t. ellioti) - Hartert, 1897: Originally described as a separate species. Found in northern and central Somalia
  • G. t. mallablensis - Colston, 1982: Found in southern Somalia
  • G. t. huriensis - Benson, 1947: Found in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya


This is a smallish lark, slightly smaller than the Eurasian skylark. It has a long, spiky, erectile crest. It is greyer than the Eurasian skylark, and lacks the white wing and tail edge of that species. It is very similar to the widespread crested lark. It is smaller and somewhat greyer than that species, and has a shorter bill. In flight it shows grey underwings, whereas the crested lark has reddish underwings. The body is mainly dark-streaked grey above and whitish below. The sexes are similar.[6]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Thekla's lark is native and resident in France, Spain, Portugal, Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Tunisia and Western Sahara.[1] Its typical habitat is rugged areas with scrub, bare patches of ground and semi-arid grassland.[7]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

Eggs of Galerida theklae MHNT

It nests on the ground, laying two to six eggs. Its food is weed, seeds and insects, the latter especially in the breeding season.[7]

The song is melodious and varied, with mournful whistles and mimicry included. It is softer and more tuneful than that of the crested lark, and may be sung during flight or from the ground or an exposed perch.[6]


  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2017). "Galerida theklae". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2017: e.T22717387A111112049. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-1.RLTS.T22717387A111112049.en.
  2. ^ Thekla. Behind the Name, retrieved 16-01-2013. Brehm later had five children, four of who died of diphtheria in 1883, including a daughter also named Thekla.
  3. ^ Alström, Per; Barnes, Keith N.; Olsson, Urban; Barker, F. Keith; Bloomer, Paulette; Khan, Aleem Ahmed; Qureshi, Masood Ahmed; Guillaumet, Alban; Crochet, Pierre-André (2013-12-01). "Multilocus phylogeny of the avian family Alaudidae (larks) reveals complex morphological evolution, non-monophyletic genera and hidden species diversity" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 69 (3): 1043–1056. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.06.005. ISSN 1095-9513. PMID 23792153.
  4. ^ "Galerida theklae - Avibase". Retrieved 2016-12-10.
  5. ^ "IOC World Bird List 6.4". IOC World Bird List Datasets. doi:10.14344/
  6. ^ a b Mark Beaman; Steve Madge (1998). The Handbook of Bird Identification: For Europe and the Western Palearctic. Christopher Helm. p. 549. ISBN 978-0-7136-3960-5.
  7. ^ a b "Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 17 November 2016.

External links[edit]