Alauda arvensis, Linn, Syst. Nat. i. p. 287 (1766) ; Naum. iv. p. 157, Taf. 100, fig. 1 ; Hewitson, p. 176, pl. xlv. fig. 1 ; Gould, B. of E. iii. pl. 166 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. iii. pl. 15 ; Newton, i. p. 614 ; Dresser, iv. p. 307, pl. 231 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. xiii. p. 567 ; Oates, F. Brit. Ind. Birds, ii. p. 324 ; Saunders, p. 249 ; Lilford, iv. p. 3, pl. 2 ; A. cantarella, Bp. Comp. List. p. 36 (1838) ; A. leiopus vel orientalis, Hodgs, in Gray’s Zool. Misc. p. 84 (1844) ; A. japonica, Temm, and Schlegel, Faun. Jap. p. 87, pl. 47, (1850) ; A. triborhynch, Hodgs, apud Horsf, and Moore, Cat. ii. p. 467 (1858) ; A. guttata, Brooks, J.A.S.B, xli. pt. ii. p. 85 (1872) ; A. blakistoni, Stejn. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. ii. p. 98 (1884).
Alouette des champs, French ; Laverca, Portug. ; Zurriaga, Span. ; Lodola, Ital. ; Heidelerche, German ; Leeuwerik, Dutch ; Sangloerke, Dan. ; Loerke, Norw. ; Sanglarka, Swed. ; Kivenviha, Finn. ; Polevoi-javronok, Russ.
Male ad. (England). Upper parts dark brown margined with fulvous and warm sandy buff ; crown slightly crested ; supercilium pale buffy white ; quills dark brown narrowly margined with dull white ; tail brown, the middle feathers greyish brown, the outer feathers nearly all white, the next with the outer web white ; under parts buffy white, the flanks dusky, the throat speckled and the breast streaked with brown ; bill brown above, dull flesh-colour below ; legs yellowish brown ; iris dark brown Culmen 0.6, wing 4.4, tail 2.8, tarsus 0.9, hind-toe with claw 1.05 inch. Sexes alike except that the female is slightly smaller. The young bird has the feathers margined with sandy buff and tipped with dull white on the upper parts, and the under parts are creamy buff streaked with brown on the breast.
Hab. Europe ; from Northern Scandinavia to the Mediter¬ranean ; the Canaries, Madeira ; North Africa and Asia Minor in winter ; Asia as far east as the Pacific, and north to Kamchatka ; in winter Afghanistan. Persia, Turkestan, North¬-West India and Northern China, Mongolia and Manchuria ; the northern island of Japan in summer, resident in the southern island.
Frequents plains, fields, and open places, and in winter collects in large flocks ranging about the country in search of food, and throughout its range it appears to be a migrant. It feeds chiefly on seeds and grain, leaves of grass and of other plants, and in summer to some extent on insects. It is gene¬rally seen on the ground, hardly ever perching on a bush, or tree. It runs with ease and rapidity and its flight is easy, being a succession of slight undulations with short alternate cessations. Its song is usually uttered whilst the bird is hover¬ing and circling high in the air, but is often continued after it has alighted, and is cheerful and protracted. It breeds in Europe as far north as Bodo, and possibly the Varanger fiord ; sparingly in North Africa, and in Asia as far north as Kam¬chatka. The nest which is placed on the ground is constructed of straws and grass-bents lined with similar but finer materials, and the eggs 3 to 5 in number are dull grey or olive-grey, with pale purplish or light brown shell-markings and dark nut-brown surface-spots or blotches, which are frequently collected round the larger end and measure about 0.94 by 0.65.
The Skylark is subject to considerable variation in shade of colour, and has by many authors been separated into several subspecies of which I may mention A. cantarella, from the Mediterranean east to Persia, N.-W. India, Siberia and N. China. A. guttata and A. leiopus from Kashmir and the Himalayas. A. blakistoni from Kamchatka and E. Siberia and A. japonica from Japan, but all these intergrade inter se and with typical A. arvensis, so that I am unable to assign even subspecific rank to any of those forms or varieties.
555. Alauda arvensis