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BIRD OF THE WEEK
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Eremophila alpestris
POPULATION: 97 million
HABITAT: Open, sparsely-vegetated habitats (including prairie, desert, shore, and tundra) across several continents
The courtship flight of the male Horned Lark illustrates much of what we love about birds: beauty, song, and feats of athleticism humans can only dream of. Like Sprague’s Pipit, the Horned Lark banks steeply and silently into the sky, ascending hundreds of feet above open fields. He fills the sky with a tinkling cascade of notes before plunging toward the ground in pursuit of the female’s attention.
Horned Lark is the only native lark found in North America, although it’s also found in northern areas of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Its scientific name, Eremophila alpestris, translates to “desert lover of the high mountains.” The appellation refers to the bird’s preferred breeding habitats in Eurasia: open grasslands and similar places above the tree line.