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Calendulauda albescens (Karoo lark) 

[= Mirafra albescens

Karoolewerik [Afrikaans]; Alouette du Karroo [French]; Karrulerche [German]; Cotovia do Karoo [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 > Genus: Calendulauda

Calendulauda albescens (Karoo lark) Calendulauda albescens (Karoo lark) 

Karoo lark, South Africa. [photo Jim Scarff ]

Karoo lark, South Africa, West Coast National Park, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to South Africa, occurring from the western side of the Eastern Cape to the Western and Northern Cape. It generally prefers shrubland with soft, sandy soils, such as Karoo, sandplain Fynbos and strandveld.

Distribution of Karoo 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 eats a variety of invertebrates and grass seeds, doing its foraging on the ground, plucking food items from the bases of grass tufts and shrubs. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Invertebrates
    • termites
      • Hodotermes mossambicus (Northern harvester termite)
      • Microhodotermes viator (Southern harvester termite)
    • Nemopteridae (thread-wing lacewings)
    • mantids
    • Orthoptera (grasshoppers)
    • Coleoptera (beetles and weevils)
    • Hemiptera (bugs)
      • leafhoppers and sapsuckers (Cicadelloidae)
    • Formicidae (ants)
      • Messor
      • Monomorium
      • Pheidole
      • Tetramorium
      • Crematogaster
      • Acontholepis
    • fly larvae (Diptera)
    • snails
    • spiders
  • Seeds
    • Grasses
      • Centropodia glauca
      • Eragrostis
      • Stipagrostis
      • Cladoraphis spinosa (Spiny love grass)
    • Shrubs
      • Aizoon
      • Aridaria
      • Augea capensis (Bobbejaankos)
      • Hermannia
      • Lotononis
      • Plexipus
      • Protoasparagus
      • Psilocaulon
      • Requernia sphaerosperma
      • Sphalmanthus
    • Forbs
      • Atriplex
      • Amaranthus
      • Chenopodium
      • Dimorphotheca
      • Galenia
      • Indigofera
      • Limeum
      • Polygonum
      • Talinum
      • Tetragonia echinata (Kinkelbos)
      • Tribulus terrestris (Dubbeltjie)
  • Fruit of honey-thorn (Lycium)


  • The nest is mainly built by the female, consisting of a cup covered by a a half dome, built of dry grass, strips of Milkweed (Asclepias buchenaviana) bark, thin twigs and occasionally leaves. It is typically placed in a scrape or hollow in the ground, often at the base of a grass tuft or shrub.
  • Egg-laying season is from July-November, although in particularly dry years it may not breed at all.
  • It lays 2-3, rarely 4 eggs, which are white and blotched with brown and grey.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents on a diet of invertebrates, leaving the nest before they are able to fly.


Not threatened.


  • 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.