539. BIFASCIATED LARK.
Certhilauda alaudipes (Desf.), Mem. de l’Acad. Roy. des Sciences, 1787, p. 504, pl. xvi. ; Dresser, iv. p. 273 ; (Sharpe) Cat. B. Ur. Mus. xiii. p. 518 ; Koenig, J. f. O. 1895, p. 434, Tab. vii. fig. 5 (eggs) ; C. desertorum (Stanley), in Salt’s Trav. Abyss. App. p. Ix. (1814) ; Dresser, iv. p. 275, pl. 226 ; (Sharpe) tom. cit. p. 519 ; C. bifasciata (Licht.), Verz. Doubl, p. 27 (1823) ; Gould, B. of E. iii. p. 168.
Alouette, French ; Muka, Arabic.
Male ad. (N. Africa). Upper parts pale sandy isabelline tinged with grey on the head and nape, the rump and upper tail-coverts paler ; primaries white at the base, increasing inwards, otherwise blackish, the innermost tipped with white ; secondaries white with a blackish central Land ; larger coverts tipped with white, the smaller margined with isabelline ; middle rectrices sandy isabelline, the rest blackish, the outermost with the outer web white ; sides of the face marked with black ; supercilium dull white ; under parts white, the breast washed with grey and spotted with blackish brown ; beak horn-brown ; legs china-white ; iris brown Culmen 1.15, wing 4.7, tail 3.55, tarsus 1.3 inch. Sexes alike. The variation in colour is considerable, some specimens being much greyer than others, but the extreme of the grey and rufous forms are both found in N. Africa.
Hab. North Africa down to about. 16° N. lat. ; Cape Verde Islands ; Arabia ; Palestine, where it is rare ; Persia ; Afghanistan, Sind, and Cutch ; is said to occur rarely north of the Mediterranean.
This is essentially a desert form, avoiding cultivated places and inhabiting only the sandy flat desert, and is always found singly or in pairs and never in flocks. Its flight resembles that of the Hoopoe, and on the ground it runs swiftly, like a Cursorius. Though usually seen on the ground it occasionally perches on a bush. It feeds on coleoptera and other insects, and on seeds. Its song, which consists only of three or four notes, is a melancholy querulous whistle. It is resident throughout its range and breeds in April. The nest, which is placed on the ground, is constructed of twigs of desert bushes and grass-bents, interwoven with spiders’ webs and lined with cottony portions of plants. The eggs, usually 3 in number, are greyish white with pale ashy shell-blotches and clay-brown spots and dots which are more numerous at the larger end, and measure about 0.79 by 0.59.
539. Certhilauda alaudipes
539. BIFASCIATED LARK.