Greater Short-toed Lark just fledged

On Romania´s Black Sea coast May is migration and early breeding time. After having seen many of top birds like in the Macin Mountains, a small group of bird photographers went for the steppe habitat further south. Excellent sightings of larks (Calandra Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Eurasian Skylark and Wood Lark – a bit further to the north) in that nice habitat in the Dobrogea/ Dobrudja near Constanta we made. A young bird heavly dotted with white spots was crossing the road. It must be a recently fledged Juvenile – otherwise the bill would look much different. First I was struggling with the identification particularly concerning Skylark vs. Greater Short-toed Lark. Unfortunately there is not too much about young Greater Short-toed Lark in the internet. The only websites I found were from Annika Forsten & Antero Lindholm concerning larks in Kasachstan and from Javier Blasco-Zumeta and Gerd-Michael Heinze from the Laboratorio Virtual Ibercaja. In many lark species the juvenile indivuduals have feathers with pale edges whereas the adults are lacking the pale edges. To identify the adults is not too difficult. Greater Short-toed Lark is a small pale lark which is streaked greyish-brown above, white below, and has a strong pointed bill that is pinkish with a gray culmen. The Greater Short-toed Lark is smaller than the Skylark. The dark patches on each side of its neck are good field marks to exclude Lesser Short-toed Lark (if the feathers are not too worn). But was is true for the Adults does not necessarily apply for the Juveniles too. For identifying, you should start with the obvious and this is for what the bird derived its name: Short-toed Lark. And indeed the bird has short toes – especially the hind toe. Additionally the claws are very pale and the feet are entirely pink. Juvenile Skylarks usually have darker claws and feet, as well as a lot of dark streaks or spots on central breast. The iris is dark brown in the images shown. This is a feature of adult skylarks as well as of juvenile Greater Short-toed Lark but different to juvenile Skylarks where the iris is light brown. The bill of the bird looks squeezed but a bit heavier than in Skylark and more finch-like. Good pictures – especially of the color and shape of feet and claws – you will also find here. In other regions there could be confusion with the Lesser Short-toed Lark. This congener is very similar, but has streaked breast lacking both dark patches on upper breast. Unfortunately Juveniles of both species are very difficult to determine since tertials are short in both species. The eggs of Greater Short-toed Larks are laid according to the geographical location. Breeding usually starts in early April in southwestern Europe and from mid-April in Southeastern Europe. The incubation period lasts 13 days. The young birds leave the nest 8 to 10 days. That fits perfectly to the time when we saw the young bird in mid May. The Youngs start to fly after 11 to 12 days already. To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic. Trips to remote places to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. Part of the images gained are photos of Baillon’s Crake, Heuglin’s Gull and Imperial Eagle. This nice image is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if I could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online. Other successful shootings you can see under: www.bird-lens.com. Tags:

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