oa Annals of the Natal Museum - Breeding behaviour of larks in the Kalahari Sandveld

Volume 20, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0304-0798



There are eight species of larks (Alaudidae) breeding in the southern part of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park; they belong to the genera Mirafra (three spp.), Chersomanes(one sp.), Eremopterix (two spp.), Spizocorys (one sp.) and Alauda (one sp.). Each species has its own characteristic song, usually associated with a song-flight over the territory. The nest in most, if not all, species is built by the female alone, usually within four to seven days. Eggs are laid at 24-hour intervals. To judge from the difference between mean egg measurements in summer and in winter, it is possible that two different subspecies of Eremopterix verticalis breed at different times in the Gemsbok Park. Incubation takes 12 days in all species and the chicks leave the nest at about 10 days, well before they can fly. Chicks are led away from the nest by the female parent, although both parents feed the chicks. In the genus Eremopterix both parents incubate the eggs. All species of sandveld larks have characteristic alarm- and intruder-reactions at the nest; some of them have distraction displays of the injury-feigning type, others apparently do not.

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