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Chondestes

Birds Guide

Chondestes

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Lark Sparrow
Conservation status Least concern

 
 
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
 
Phylum: Chordata
 
Class: Aves
 
Order: Passeriformes
 
Family: Emberizidae
 
Genus: Chondestes
Swainson, 1827
Species: C. grammacus
 
Binomial name
Chondestes grammacus
(Say, 1823)

The Lark Sparrow, Chondestes grammacus, is a fairly large sparrow. It is the only member of the genus Chondestes.

This passerine bird breeds in southern Canada, much of the USA, and northern Mexico. It is much less common in the east, where its range is contracting. The populations in Mexico and adjacent USA states are resident, but other birds are migratory, wintering in the southern United States, Mexico and south to Guatemala.

It is a very common vagrant to western Europe, with two accepted records in Great Britain in 1981 and 1991.

Lark Sparrow is distinctive. Adults have a typically sparrow-like dark-streaked brown back, and white underparts except for a dark central spot. The cheeks and crown sides are chestnut, with white eyebrow and crown stripes. The dark tail's corners are also white.

Young Lark Sparrows are duller, and the underparts are streaked.

The breeding habitat is a variety of open habitats including grasslands and cultivation. Lark Sparrows nest on the ground, laying 3-6 eggs in a grass cup nest sheltered by a clump of grass or other vegetation. The eggs are white with black scrawling.

These birds forage on the ground or in low bushes. They mainly eat seeds, but insects, including grasshoppers are also eaten in the breeding season. They form flocks on migration or in winter.

The song is two clear notes followed by a mixture of buzzes and trills. The flight call is a thin sit.

References

  • BirdLife International (2004). Chondestes grammacus. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  • Buntings and Sparrows by Byers, Olsson and Curson, ISBN 0-7470-3202-5

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