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Songbirds of North Dakota


Family Alaudidae

Larks belong to the family Alaudidae of which only two species inhabit North America, the native horned lark described below and the European skylark introduced in New York in the 1880s. Larks are ground dwelling birds of open bare lands including deserts, beaches, and grasslands. They are slender billed, eat both seeds and insects, and walk rather than hop. Sexes are alike in appearances.

Horned Lark
Eremophila alpestris

JPG -- Picture and Range Map of Species

The horned lark measures 8-9 inches long with a wingspan of 12-14 inches. It is a brown backed bird with a very distinguishable face pattern. The male has slightly more brilliant colors and can be identified by the black feather tufts which can be seen extending above the head. In flight, it has a very recognizable black tail. Horned larks eat mostly weed seed, waste grain, and insects. They can often be seen in freshly manured fields during the winter. Females build a nest on bare ground in a natural hollow or near an earth clod or cattle droppings. Prairie dog towns are a very good area to view horned larks. They can also be found along county gravel roads and prairie trails.

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