The horned lark is also known as the shorelark. Unlike most other larks, this is a distinctive-looking species on the ground, mainly brown-grey above and pale below, with a striking black and yellow face pattern. Except for the central feathers, the tail is mostly black, contrasting with the paler body; this contrast is especially noticeable when the bird is in flight. The summer male has black `horns`. America has a number of races distinguished by the face pattern and back color of males, especially in summer. The southern European mountain race Eremophila alpestris penicillata is greyer above, and the yellow of the face pattern is replaced with white.
Habitat and Distribution
The Shore lark breeds across much of North America from the high Arctic south to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, northernmost Europe and Asia and in the mountains of southeast Europe. Some occur on a plateau in Colombia. Northern birds are migratory, moving further south in winter. This is a bird of open ground. In Eurasia it breeds above the tree line in mountains and the far north. In most of Europe, it is most often seen on seashore flats in winter. In the UK it can be found in winter along the coasts and in eastern England.
Food is seeds supplemented with insects in the breeding season.
The nest is on the ground, with 2-5 eggs being laid. The nest may be near corn or soybeans for a source of food, and the female chooses the site.
Calls and Songs
Vocalizations are high-pitched, lisping or tinkling, and weak. The song, given in flight as is common among larks, consists of a few chips followed by a warbling, ascending trill.