Saturday, February 12, 2011


Note: Scroll down right margin to CODE "(A-44) HORNED LARK" for free videos and free articles on this topic.

These wonderful birds return to their birthplace after every migration (a characteristic known as philopatric). Because of this, local populations have adapted to the color of their habitat resulting in 15 distinct subspecies in the West.

I've always appreciated the Horned Lark. They are nestsite loyal, and are "philopatric", meaning they return to their birthplace after every migration. When I first saw a picture of one at age 5 in a child's bird book, I thought in real life they would be as large as a crow. The yellow throat impressed me then, and it still does today. In Sandusky County, Ohio I enjoy driving along County Road 198, then turning left onto County Road 412. The Horned Larks seem to enjoy the vast open fields and corn stubble along this route. There's many names for a group of larks (ascension, exaltation, happiness, etc.), but I like the "springul" description best.

Driving a mere 8 miles along these two rural roads, I counted 63 Horned Larks. And, these were only the ones along the roadside. There's many more deeper into the fields of corn stubble, I'm sure. The wonderful video of Horned Larks feeding in winter (below) are from some
great youtube people who shared their first-time Horned Larks feeding in their yard.

As I observed the Horned Larks along County Roads 198 and 412, I noticed many were facing the sun as if to catch every warming ray of light. It was freezing with a moderate wind; they seemed to know how to remain still and burn fewer calories while absorbing as much warmth as possible.

It's impressive how they know how to survive in the open, frigid, wind-swept fields of NW Ohio. Always walking or running, they never hop over the icy fields. I've witnessed them burrow into the snow so only their shoulders and heads are visible. There's plenty of seeds for them to forage for along the CR berms. They compare to the Great Horned Owl as far as early nesters and nest in February in the northern states. Often, their first eggs are wiped out by severe winter storms. But, they have up to three broods a year and make up for the early losses. If there are any Horned Lark enthusiasts out there, set your GPS for the CR's mentioned above and you'll see Horned Larks galore, along with Tree Sparrows and Song Sparrows which often accompany them.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. writes about the natural world. Comments? Questions? Have personal stories, articles or photos, events or seminars you'd like to post? We'll publish them for free. Contact us at the secure Bpath Mail Form.