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PRAIRIE HORNED LARK. Otocoris [Eremophila] alpestris praticola
[Currently considered a subspecies of the Horned Lark.]
7.25 in.

Ad.— Similar to the following species but smaller, the throat white, or only tinged with yellow; the line over the eye pure white. Im.— Lacks the black and yellow about the head; breast washed with brownish buff, speckled with dusky.

Nest, on the ground. Eggs, pale olive or pale buffy, finely but thickly speckled with olive-brown.

The Prairie Horned Lark is a summer resident of northeastern New York and of most of New England, though nowhere common. A few may winter in suitable localities. It has been found breeding in northern Connecticut, in eastern, central, and western Massachusetts, particularly in Berkshire County, and throughout northern New England. It is apparently extending its range eastward, and will probably become commoner, and appear in new localities. It arrives in March and raises two broods, the first in April, the second in June. It frequents grassy hills or intervales, and feeds on the ground, walking or running.

It is restless, and often flies about, uttering a sharp tsee or tsée-de-rēe. Its song is uttered either on the ground, and then consists of four or five introductory twits, followed by a little trill, all in a very sharp tone, or it is delivered after the bird has mounted, like his famous cousin, to a considerable height; it is then much longer, but still sharp and unmusical and lacking the strength of the Skylark.

The Prairie Horned Lark also occurs as a rare migrant in late October and November along the sea-coast of New England and New York, often in company with its relative the Shore Lark. It must not be confused with the small pale-colored females of the latter species, from which the pure white line over the eye will distinguish it.

HORNED LARK; SHORE LARK. Otocoris [Eremophila] alpestris

Ad. ♂.— Forehead and patch back of eye yellow; “horns," or tufts of feathers projecting backward from the head, black; front and sides of crown, line from bill under eye along sides of throat and band across upper breast black; back of head, back, and rump pinkish-brown; tail dark, outer pair of feathers edged with white; throat yellow; belly white, sides pinkish-brown. Ad. ♀.— Similar to ♂, but decidedly smaller, the black much less pronounced; the pink tinge often wanting; throat duller.

The Shore Lark is a common winter visitant along the seacoast from October to April; small flocks occasionally occur inland. Shore Larks feed in flocks along the flats left bare by the tide, and on the fields and hillsides, within sound of the surf.

Their notes are shrill, resembling the syllables tsée, tsée-de-ree; it is hard to distinguish them from those of the Titlark, which may be found in the same localities in fall and spring, but not in winter. They are restless birds, flying high when disturbed, and passing back and forth from one hill to another, so that their notes are often heard high in air. On the ground they run or walk; in the air their wings look long and pointed. The “horns” show as little tufts of elongated feathers projecting backward on each side of the head.

The females are smaller, the yellow of their throats is duller, but they may be distinguished at very close range from the inland Prairie Horned Lark by the white eyebrow of the latter. Shore Larks are often associated with Snow Buntings, but may be known by their heavy square-shouldered build, the yellow throat, and the black markings which include it.


Horned Lark

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