During the nomadic period and wintering, birds can gather in the mown fields, as well as in the area of pastures and villages. Also, in winter, they roam in large flocks (they can reach several hundred individuals). Moreover, only about 20% of the flock consists of females. The roaming of males, as a rule, takes place within the nesting area, as well as to the north in the forest-steppe. Females can independently migrate to the southern regions. In the spring they meet with males, forming mixed flocks.
The black lark's diet consists mainly of insects, invertebrates and grasses (off-season) and plant seeds (winter). Small active birds also have a great need for water, because even at the height of nesting they often gather at watering holes. Larks love to feed on the roads.
The bird's voice is typical for representatives of the genus - field and steppe larks. It audibly reminds of a continuous beautiful whistle, iridescent trills. The black lark can also murmur like a young starling. The bird sings mainly in the air while it flies low above the ground. Sometimes it is poured, sitting on top of a small bush, pillar or stone. Call calls are also typical for representatives of the species - one- or two-syllable chirps: "psit" or "civli", etc.
The lark flies calmly, performing slow flaps of its wings, combining active advancement with short planning periods. During rhythmic flaps, the wings are collected over the back.
The black lark gathers for nesting in late winter or early spring with the appearance of the first thawed patches. Pairs begin to form in spring flocks mainly from April. Bird nests are built at a distance of 80 to 700 meters to the neighboring one. The masonry is a recess in the ground, covered with a bunch of grass or shrubs. The nest is built from dry grass and feathers, stems of wormwood or feather grass.
After mating (April-end of June), the Black Lark female lays 3 to 7 small greenish, blue or off-white eggs with characteristic spots. Incubates them during the incubation period (month) without the help of the male. It is interesting that according to statistics, 68% of the offspring are males. After the appearance of the chicks, both parents feed them with insects. The plumage of young animals occurs on the 9-11th day (on average, in late May - early July). Repeated nesting is possible if the first clutch was lost for some reason.
Non-breeding birds (males) gather during the nesting period of pairs on the shores of Lake Tengiz. Young animals that have not reached sexual maturity also gather in separate flocks in June.
Over the past few decades, the range of black larks has declined, as have their numbers. The influence is exerted by human economic activity (treatment of the steppes with chemistry, the creation of forest protection belts, drainage of reservoirs, etc.).
The lark hibernates mainly at the nesting site (regions with a low layer of snow). It can fly into the region of Omsk, Novosibirsk, Ufa.
During the nomadic period, it reaches Altai, Kursk and Kuibyshev regions, the Dnieper and the western part of Ukraine, Transcaucasia, Crimea.
The black lark is a songbird of the steppe, which can rightfully be considered a symbol of Russian fields.
Most of the nesting area is located in Kazakhstan, small areas of it extend into the Saratov, Orenburg, Omsk, Novosibirsk regions and the flat part of the Altai Territory. In the first half of the 19th century, it lived everywhere in the southern steppes, without going north beyond 51º N. In the last quarter of the 19th century, it was still found in the southern regions of the steppe Cis-Urals, but there is no specific data on its distribution in the region. On winter voyages, flew to the city of Orenburg. In the same period, it was common in the Orenburg steppe Trans-Urals.
During the nesting period, it preserves in lakeside hollows, meadow depressions and low relief areas with extensive spots of salt marshes, alternating with clumps of grass vegetation, steppe shrubs and stones, which males use as perches. In the arrangement of nests, it shows great flexibility - from completely open places to areas with meadow and fescue-feather grass vegetation. In winter, it adheres to windward slopes, roadsides with shallow snow cover. Males winter mainly in the southern steppes, forming separate flocks, females and juveniles migrate to the south - to areas with unstable snow cover.
Large starling lark. The physique is dense. The beak is rather massive, conical. Sexual dimorphism in color is well expressed. Males are dull black in summer; in autumn and winter, the upper side is ocher-grayish with black specks. Females and juveniles are brownish-gray, with dark streaks, light underside, with mild streaks and a brownish coating, on the sides of the goiter there are two blurry brown spots. Calls - a variety of babbling sounds and trills.
The abundance is subject to significant fluctuations depending on the area and type of habitat. The available credentials relate mainly to the territory of the Orenburg steppe Trans-Urals. On May 20, 1998, 13 males were counted on salt marshes along the grader road between the villages of Vostochny and Tobolsk (9 km). In early May 2001, in the vicinity of the village. The light number reached 10 pairs / km2. In the second half of May 2005 and 2006, 5 pairs / km2 inhabited the steppe Trans-Urals to the east of the western boundary of distribution. According to automobile surveys carried out in the first ten days of July 2007 in open habitats of the Shalkar-Zhetykol lake region (post-nesting time), the number ranged from 0.33-1.0, on average - 0.44 ind./km of the route. The maximum spring density in the "Ashisay steppe" section of the state natural reserve in 2008 reached 17.3 ind./km2. Based on the data presented, the number of the black lark in the southeastern regions of the Orenburg region can be estimated at no less than 1500-2000 breeding pairs. In the southern and southwestern regions, a total of 200-250 pairs live. In winter, males form significant concentrations. Individual flocks can number from 200-250 to 350-400 wasps. Especially numerous are spring pre-nesting aggregations, which, in addition to males, include females that have migrated to nesting areas. March 23, 2007 on the route from the village. Dombarovskiy to the village of Svetly, on a section of 110 km, about 5000 black larks were counted. Destruction of nests by land-based predators is indicated as limiting factors. It is assumed that the wintering conditions of males worsened with the termination of the cubs - winter grazing of horses, which, tearing the snake with their hooves, facilitated access to food for larks.
Necessary security measures.
Protected on the sites of the Orenburgsky State Nature Reserve and on the territory of the Svetlinsky Biological Reserve. Moderate grazing pressure has a positive effect on nesting conditions. It is necessary to renew in the southern steppes the traditions of nomadic cattle breeding - winter grazing of domestic animals, primarily horses. Strict control of the number of raccoon dogs is required, which has introduced in recent years to the territory of the Orenburg steppe Trans-Urals, which is actively destroying the nests of terrestrial nesting bird species, including larks
Sources of information
1. Red Data Book of the Orenburg region, 2012.
2. Orlov, Vasiliev, 1983,
3. Davygora, Rusakov, 2001,
4. Nemkov, 2012,
5. A. Shapovalov,
6. Fet, 2010.