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A photo of a Sand Lark (Alaudala raytal)
Sand Lark

Sand Lark

Alaudala raytal

The Sand Lark (Alaudala raytal) is a diminutive member of the lark family, Alaudidae, that graces the southern Asian landscape. This small passerine bird, with a length of approximately 12 to 13 centimeters, is somewhat reminiscent of the short-toed larks, albeit in a more compact form.

Identification Tips

To identify the Sand Lark, look for its dull brownish-grey plumage with faint streaks adorning the upperparts. The bird's short tail and fine bill are distinctive, with the bill size varying across its range. The subspecies krishnakumarsinhji, found near Bhavnagar in Gujarat, is notably greyer with pronounced dark streaks on its upper plumage and breast. The white lores, supercilium, and area beneath the eye contrast with the whitish underside, which may exhibit fine streaks except in the krishnakumarsinhji subspecies.

Habitat

The Sand Lark favors the sandy islands along rivers and adjacent fields, where it can be observed. It also frequents coastal dunes and arid mud-flats, adapting well to these environments.

Distribution

This species is widespread across the Gangetic plains and along the sandy banks of major rivers such as the Indus, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, and Chindwin. It is also present along the Narmada River, albeit less commonly.

Behaviour

Sand Larks are typically seen alone, in pairs, or in small, loose groups. They exhibit a distinctive foraging behavior, making sudden zigzag movements on sandy banks near water to catch insects and seeds.

Song & Calls

The Sand Lark's song is a delightful mix of rattling and tinkling notes, often performed high in the air before descending with a series of dry rattles and whistles. Its flight pattern includes soaring, rapid wing flapping, and gliding descents, culminating in a vertical dive to perch. The bird's call is a clear, tinkling "chissip."

Breeding

The breeding season spans from February to May. Sand Larks nest on the ground, constructing a deep cup in vegetation patches on the sand. They typically lay three greyish-white eggs speckled with brown.

Similar Species

While similar to short-toed larks, the Sand Lark can be distinguished by its smaller size and specific plumage characteristics.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Sand Lark consists of insects and seeds, which it forages for on the ground.

Conservation status

The Sand Lark is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating that it does not face any immediate threat of extinction.

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