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Key facts

Scientific name: Lullula arborea
Status: Scarce resident breeding species and summer migrant

Breeding birds: 3,100 pairs

Conservation status: Green

Family: Larks

Length: 13 – 15 cm
Wingspan: 27 – 30 cm
Weight: 25 – 35 g

What do woodlarks look like?

Adult male woodlarks have reddish-brown upperparts with black streaks and a brown rump with fewer markings. On the uppwerwing the flight feathers are dark brown, the primary coverts are black with white tips, and the secondary wing coverts and tertials are brown with pale tips and edges. The tail is dark brown with black stripes and white tips.

The underparts are pale with a buff tinge on the breast and flanks. The breast has black streaks while the flanks have indistinct grey streaks.

On the head, the crown is reddish-brown with black streaks, there is a white supercilium that forms a V-shape on the neck, and the ear coverts are reddish-brown with white below. They have black moustachial and malar stripes. The bill is pinkish-brown, the eyes are dark brown, and the legs and feet are flesh-coloured. The hind toes have a longer claw.

Female woodlarks are similar to males but are smaller. Juveniles have a scaley pattern on their upperparts and the breast has spots instead of streaks.

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How do woodlarks breed?

Woodlarks are monogamous and breed between March and July producing 2-3 broods a seaon. They build their nests in grassland, woodland, burnt heathlands, and amongst young conifer plantations. The nest is a deep hole in the ground amongst thick vegetation, with a lining of leaves, pine needles and moss covered with fine grasses. The male may help with making the hole, but the female finishes the nest build.

Woodlarks lay 3-5 smooth, glossy, creamy white eggs with reddish-brown speckles which are incubated by the female for 13-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 11-13 days after hatching, leaving the nest a couple of days later. They reach sexual maturity at 1 year.

What do woodlarks eat?

Woodlarks eat mainly plants such as the seeds and leaves of grasses. During breeding season they will supplement their diet with caterpillars and spiders.


Where can I see woodlarks?

Woodlarks are found mainly in eastern and southern England. They can be seen all year round on heathland and short grassland near the edges of woods.

What do woodlarks sound like?

Tero Linjama/xeno-canto

Did you know?

It has been speculated that Robert Burns’ poem To The Woodlark is actually about a tree pipit as woodlarks are rarely seen in Scotland and Burns never travelled south of Carlisle.

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One Response

  1. What lovely pictures. This brought back some memories of seeing them with my dad but haven’t seen a woodlark ofr many years.

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