|Photo by Marco Valentini (Internet Bird Collection)|
spike-heeled lark (en); cotovia-esporada (pt); alouette éperonnée (fr); alondra espolada (es); zirplerche (de)
This species is found in southern Africa, from south-western Angola, through Namibia and Botswana and into South Africa.
These birds are 14 cm long and weigh 25 g.
The spike-heeled lark is found in mostly found in grasslands, particularly in well-grazed high rainfall grasslands, but also use karoo dry scrublands, dry grasslands along the edge of the desert, and lawns and sport fields near urban areas.
They feed mainly on invertebrates, such as caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers, flies, bugs, termites, ants, ticks, solifugids, scorpions and spiders. They also take some seeds.
Spike-heeled larks breed in response to rainfall, but mostly in August-December. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of an open cup made of dry grass, twigs and rootlets, placed on the ground, usually at the base of a grass tuft or shrub, or sometimes in a clump of stones and sticks. The female lays 2-5 eggs, which she incubates alone for 12-13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 8-12 days, before they are able to fly. They usually become independent a few days later.
IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and id described as common in at least parts of its range. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to the expansion of cultivation and plantations, but the spike-heeled lark is not considered threatened at present.