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the web of life in southern Africa

Calendulauda burra (Red lark) 

[= Mirafra burra] 

Rooilewerik [Afrikaans]; Alouette ferrugineuse [French]; Oranjelerche [German]; Cotovia-vermelha [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 burra (Red lark)  Calendulauda burra (Red lark) 

Red lark, Ageneys, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Red lark, Ageneys, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to the Northern Cape, South Africa, preferring red sand dunes and sandy plains with grass with large seeds (such as Brachiara glomerata, Stipagrostis ciliata and Stipagrostis brevifolia) and scattered Greenhair-thorn trees (Parkinsonia africana). It may also occur in dwarf shrubland with a substrate of shales, provided that there are enough large-seeded grasses.

Distribution of Red 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 in insects and seeds, doing most of its foraging on the ground, digging to expose food items with its large bill or gleaning from the bases of plants. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Invertebrates
  • Seeds
    • grass
      • Brachiara glomerata (signal grass)
      • Stipagrostis ciliata (bushman grass)
    • shrubs
      • Giseckia pharnacioides (Volstruisduiwe)
      • Tetragonia echinata (Kinkelbos)
      • Limeum africanum (Koggelmandervoetkaroo)
      • Limeum myosotis
      • Tribulus terrestris (Dubbeltjie)
      • Hermannia
      • daisies
        • Arctotis
        • Dimorphotheca
      • Chenopodium (misbredjies)
      • Lotononis
      • Polygonum
  • Fruit of honey-thorns (Lycium)


  • The nest is a domed cup built of thick-stemmed grasses, typically placed in a scrape in the ground against one or two grass tufts. It is lined with finer plant material, such as old weathered grass and the awns of bushman grasses (Stipagrostis).
  • It lays 2-3 eggs opportunistically after rain, usually in the months from August-May, peaking in October.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents on a diet of invertebrates, such as bagworm caterpillars (Psychidae)


Vulnerable due to its localised and patchy distribution along with destruction and fragmentation of its preferred habitat, often due to livestock grazing. Its estimated population in 1991 was about 9400 birds and decreasing.


  • 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.