basic information

Greater Short-toed Lark

Calandrella brachydactyla (Leisler, 1814)

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Desert of North Trans-Caspian Sea area. Suindik.
© Askar Isabekov


Adult males and females of the Greater Short-toed Lark are grey above with typically to Larks pattern. The crown is grayish sometimes obvious buffy tinged with narrow brownish streaks; the nape, upperwings, mantle and uppertail are grayish with brownish broad streaks. The central tail feathers are brownish with pale edges; outer pair is off-white with brown on the base and inner web. The second outer pair as all other is blackish-brown but with off-white from the middle to the tip on outer web. The off-white obvious supercilium continues from the bill above the eye; ear coverts are brownish. The throat, breast and undertail are whitish-greyish slightly darker on breast. On the breast's sides there are two brownish patches. The flight feathers are brownish with narrow pale edges of the outer webs of the primaries and broad pale edges of secondaries. The background color of the head and upperparts are variable from grey to grey-buffy. In autumn plumage it is buffy tinged above. Streaks are less neat, washed; the edges of the central and outer tail feathers are buffy tinged. The bill is dark-grey with yellow base of the low mandible, legs are pale-brownish, eyes are brown. Juveniles after autumn molting have darker streaks on the crown; the upperwing coverts have broad buffy edges; the buffy tinge is obvious on the general color of the mantle and on the edges of secondaries. Size: length about 160 mm; males – wing 84-97, tail 51-62; females – wing 82-91, tail 51-62 mm. Weight 18,5-25 grams.


The Greater Short-toed Lark breeds and migrates throughout on plains of Kazakhstan, in north up to Kustanay; Atbasar; Selety-Teniz lake; Zhamantuz and Svetliza lakes in Pavlodar Trans-Irtysh area; and Kalbinskiy Altai. Single birds observed in 180 km to north-eastern from Kustanay in summer. On migration in mid April and mid October sometimes observed in Southern Altai, on Markakol lake.


The Greater Short-toed Lark is numerous, in some areas places common, breeding migrant. Inhabits dry wormwood steppe, clay desert with stunted wormwood and Salsola vegetation, crushed clay and stony plots of sandy desert, fasten sands with wormwood, fescue-wormwood steppe, foothills and tablelands from plains up to 1000-1600 m. On migration it observed on stubble fields, hayfields and roadsides. Arrives early to mid March in flocks of several dozen individuals in southern areas, and early to mid April in the north. Most birds migrate from March to mid April. Separate pairs breed not far each from another. Nest is built on the ground in a shallow scrape under tussock; from dry grass and is lined with soft grass, vegetation fluff and spider's cocoons. Clutches of 3-5, more often of 4 eggs, in mid April to early June. Both parents share incubation for 10–11 days and feed juveniles, which fledge in 11-12 days, mid May to early July. All phases of reproduction in the north occur two weeks later than in southern areas. Wandering begins in loose groups (sometimes of dozens of individuals) in late July to August. Most birds migrate in September to mid October, latest recorded early November.


Calandrella brachydactyla longipennis (Eversmann, 1848)


"Птицы Казахстана" том 3. "Наука". Алма-Ата, 1970. Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999.



Calandrella brachydactyla longipennis
(Eversmann, 1848)


Calandrella cinerea artemisiae
(Bankovsky, 1913)
Calandrella cinerea orientalis
(Sushkin, 1925)

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