- Common Name:
- Lark Sparrow
- Scientific Name:
- Chondestes grammacus
- Length: 6.5 inches
- IUCN Red List Status:
- Least concern
- Current Population Trend:
This sparrow (monotypic genus) feeds on bare or sandy ground. When flushed, it flies to a high perch. Few other sparrows are likely to fly high overhead during daylight. They call both when flushing and when flying overhead; occur singly or in flocks up to 50. Polytypic. Length 6.5".
Largest open-country sparrow. Long, rounded tail with prominent white corners. Adult: distinctive harlequin face pattern of black, white, and chestnut. Bright white underparts marked only with dark central breast spot. Juvenile: duller face; fine, black streaks on breast, sides, and crown lost gradually through fall.
Two subspecies show weak variation. Eastern grammacus darker overall with wider black back streaks than western strigatus.
Call: sharp tsik, often a rapid series and frequently delivered in flight. High chips when excited. Song: begins with 2 loud, clear notes, followed by a series of rich, melodious notes and trills and unmusical buzzes. Sings one of the longest sparrow songs.
Status and Distribution
Fairly common. Primarily west of the Mississippi; once bred as far east as New York and western Maryland. Rare migrant throughout the East, mainly in fall. Prairies, roadsides, farms, open woodlands, mesas. Vagrant: accidental to Alaska, northern Canada, and Europe.
Stable, though eastern populations are declining and it is extirpated from former breeding areas in the East.