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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Spanish Bird of the Week #10: Crested Lark

By James

There are only two kinds of European birds that I never figured out how properly dfferentiate. The first is, of course, the Sylviidae – Europe’s sorry excuse for warblers. Any American who’s birded in Europe has probably experienced the near impossible task of differentiating Reed Warblers from Garden Warblers from Bonelli’s Warblers from the other ten species that look practically identical.

The second type is the subject of this post: the larks. Differentiating Crested Larks and Thekla Larks, the two species present in Andalucia, is akin to differentiating Gray-cheeked Thrush from Bicknell’s. That is, nearly impossible if you aren’t an experienced birder in the area.

Which one is it? The ID is difficult even for European birders.

For me, Crested Larks were infinitely common than Thekla Larks. I had twenty to thirty of the Crested variety, but never had a single one that someone could turn into a Thekla Lark. This isn’t necessarily surprising given the Thekla’s prefer dry plains, but it was still disappointing. Crested Larks, on the other hand seemed to enjoy just about any habitat.

I frequently saw them in grassy plains, patches of dry dirt, and even along the well-traveled path that runs alongside the Guadalquivir River, which is were I got my best picture of the lark. It’s a fairly disappointing shot for such a common bird. Oh well. I guess I’ll have to go back at some point.

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