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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Lark Bunting -- Calamospiza melanocorys

RANGE: Breeds from southern Alberta to southwestern Minnesota, and south, east of the Rockies, to eastern New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, and northwestern Missouri; also locally or sporadically in southern California and Utah to west-central Texas. Winters from southern California to north-central Texas south into Mexico and southern Louisiana.

STATUS: Common; on the Blue List because of overall declines in population.

HABITAT: On the western Great Plains, inhabits mixed short-grass prairie and other areas of predominately low growth, but also areas of taller grasses with scattered shrubs and disturbed grasslands. Also inhabits sagebrush, fenced pastures, cultivated or fallow alfalfa or clover croplands, weedy roadsides, meadows, and areas of relatively barren ground.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Open habitats with relatively short, herbaceous vegetation.

NEST: Builds nest in a depression in the ground, usually well concealed by grasses or other prairie plants, often located near the base of a plant or plant debris.

FOOD: Feeds on the ground, taking primarily insects during the summer, especially grasshoppers. In other seasons, eats seeds of weeds and grasses predominately.

REFERENCES: Ballard in Farrand 1983c, Baumgartner in Bent 1968b, Forbush and May 1955, Johnsgard 1979, Tate and Tate 1982.

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