TWO LOOK-ALIKE LARKS WITH TOTALLY DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES

At first glance and certainly in most field guides the Monotonous Lark closely resembles the endemic Melodious Lark in size and overall upper colouration apart from white below compared to warm buff on the belly. At this point the similarity stops with habitat preferences differing markedly with no overlap.

                                      Melodious Lark                                                                    Monotonous Lark

Monotonous Larks favour sparsely vegetated woodland and savanna while Melodious Larks are found within a restricted range of climax grassland generally free of livestock interference. Both species favour prominent call sites in the breeding season. While Monotonous, as the name implies has a repetitive highly audible multi-note call likened to ‘purple jeep…’ that can drive you nuts night and day, the Melodious has a range of over 50 different bird calls within a jumble of signature notes. These include guineafowl, francolin, cuckoos, bee-eaters, swallows, chats, pipits, longclaws and other typical grassveld species. Aside from making use of a convenient fence post, termite mound or shrub as a call site from which to deliver the medley of jumbled notes, the bird takes to the wing in ‘bumble bee’ like flight, with its feathers puffed out for added visual effect.

On attaining cruising altitude the bird ranges back in forth across its territory in singing competition with its fellow congeners in the area. This can last for up to 20 minutes or longer before plummeting down to earth to disappear in the long grass or to once again return to the regular call site for a further burst of song. Out of season both are highly unobtrusive, and extremely difficult to flush, making observation and positive identification inconclusive were it not for the distinct difference in habitat preference. Breeding seasons overlap one another with the start of the summer months making Nov and Dec the best time to mount a search for these two highly localised and interesting lark species.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *