This is a small pale lark, smaller than the skylark. It is dark-streaked greyish-brown above, and white below, and has a strong pointed bill that is pinkish with a grey culmen. It has a pale supercilium, dark patches on each side of its neck and a dark tail. Some birds in the west of the range have a rufous crown. The sexes are similar. Subspecies longipennis is paler than dukhunensis which also has a shorter bill. In winter they fly in large and compact flocks that swing in synchrony. Care must be taken to distinguish this species from other similar Calandrella larks, such as the lesser short-toed lark. Flocks will often fly together to water in the mornings at favourite spots. In the evenings they roost in open ground, with each bird squatting in a small depression made in the soil.

Habitat and Distribution

This is a common bird of dry open country and cultivation. All but some southernmost populations are migratory, wintering south to the southern edge of the Sahara and India. This species is a fairly common wanderer to northern and western Europe in spring and autumn. Populations breeding in the Iberian Peninsula winter south of the Sahara in Africa. Here they prefer crop land and dry pastures with short shrubs while the syntopic lesser short-toed larks (Calandrella rufescens) prefer drier areas.


Its food is seeds and insects, the latter especially in the breeding season.


It nests on the ground, laying two to three eggs.

Calls and Songs

The song varies between a dry twittering and a more varied and imitative melody.