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Calandrella cinerea (Red-capped lark) 

Rooikoplewerik [Afrikaans]; Intibane, Intutyane [Xhosa]; umNtoli [Zulu]; Thesta-balisana, Tsiroane [South Sotho]; Roodkapleeuwerik [Dutch]; Alouette cendrille [French]; Rotscheitellerche [German]; Cotovia-de-barrete-vermelho [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Alaudidae

Calandrella cinerea (Red-capped lark)  Calandrella cinerea (Red-capped lark) 

Red-capped lark adult, Intaka Island Wetland Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Red-capped lark juvenile, Tanqua Karoo, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from southern DRC and Kenya through Zambia and Angola to southern Africa. Here it is common to abundant in open grassland, shrubland (such as Karoo and fynbos), and saltmarsh vegetation along lagoon shores. It also favours recently ploughed, harvested or burnt fields and road verges after rainfall.

Distribution of Red-capped lark in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


It mainly eats seeds supplemented with invertebrates, plucking food items from bare soil and occasionally taking prey from grass tufts and shrubs. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Seeds
    • Grasses
      • Brachyaria
      • Setaria
      • Urochloa
      • Eleusine
      • Panicum
    • Sedges
      • Fimbristylis
    • Shrubs
      • Hermannia
    • Forbs
      • Amaranthus
      • Arctotis
      • Dimorphotheca
      • Gisekia
      • Mollugo
      • Aizoaceae
  • Invertebrates


  • The nest (see image below) is built mainly by the female in about 4-5 days, consisting of a cup built of dry grass and roots and lined with finer plant fibres. It is typically placed on the ground in a scrape, hole or deep hoofprint, often located next to a grass tuft, clod of earth or animal dung.
Calandrella cinerea (Red-capped lark)  

Red-capped lark nest with eggs, Wakkerstroom, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ]

  • The eggs are usually laid just before rainfall in the period from March-December, peaking from July-September
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 12-15 days, while the male feeds her at the nest.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 9-18 days.


Not threatened, in fact it has greatly benefited from the introduction of farmland, which is know one its favourite habitats.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.