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Eurasian Skylark

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Is the Eurasian Skylark right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Skylark

Scientific name: Alauda arvensis

The basics:
At first glance, the Eurasian Skylark looks like just another unremarkable small speckled brown bird, but it has been famous throughout human history for the beautiful display flight of the singing male. Although they are probably not for beginners since they demand an insect-rich softbill diet, Skylarks are temperate rather than tropical and can tolerate cooler temperatures than many other popular pet birds.

The Eurasian Skylark is an extremely widespread and successful Old World songbird found over a large area of Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. Its habitat includes scrubby, swampy, or grassy territories where it feeds and nests on the ground. Despite its overall abundance worldwide, this species quite suddenly collapsed to a fraction of its former population size in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s and early 1980s, possibly due to changing farming practices.

Appearance:
A rather unimpressive light brown bird with a small crest.

Weight:
35 - 42 grams (1.2 - 1.5 oz.)

Average size:
18 centimeters (7 in.)

Lifespan:
10 years

Behavior / temperament:
Skylarks can become reliable breeders producing multiple nests once they are properly paired. The young birds are well camouflaged, and you should always step carefully when walking inside their aviary.

Housing:
Because of the display flight which is the whole point of keeping the Skylark, you will need to provide a generous aviary that allows the birds to fly up and down as they perform their song. In other words, the flight should allow for Skylarks to spring up vertically as well as to fly back and forth horizontally.

Diet:
Skylarks can eat some soft sprouting seed but they should be considered as largely insectivorous rather than seed-eaters. They will need a high-quality small softbill crumble, supplemented by tiny mealworms or other grubs, especially during the breeding season. Always check with your breeder for the latest nutritional advice, but you should almost certainly sprinkle on a good multi-vitamin and a calcium supplement as well. In the wild they forage for food on the ground, and most if not all breeders place the food and water dishes low.

Written by Elaine Radford