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Certhilauda chuana (Short-clawed lark) 

[= Mirafra chuana

Kortkloulewerik [Afrikaans]; Botswana-leeuwerik [Dutch]; Alouette ongles courts [French]; Betschuanalerche [German]; Cotovia-d'unhas-curtas [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: Certhilauda

Certhilauda chuana (Short-clawed lark)  Certhilauda chuana (Short-clawed lark) 

Short-clawed lark, Polokwane Game Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Short-clawed lark. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to southern Africa, occurring from south-eastern Botswana to the North-west Province, Free State and Limpopo Province. It generally prefers semi-arid Acacia savanna with scattered grass clumps and bushes, with large patches of bare ground.

Distribution of Short-clawed 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 almost exclusively eats insects (mainly ants and termites), gleaning them from bare soil and vegetation. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is built solely by the female in about 5 days, consisting of open cup built of grass and lined with finer plant material. It is typically placed in a scrape in the ground beneath a grass tuft or small shrub, often with scattered nest material surrounding it.
  • Egg-laying season is from September-March, peaking from October-February.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 14-16 days. Temperatures can get above 41 Celsius but the nest can get even get to above 50 Celsius, making it even more necessary for the female to shade the eggs, despite her own discomfort.
  • The chicks are brooded for the first few days of their lives, especially around midday when the sun is at its hottest. They are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 11-12 days, before they are able to fly, spending the next few weeks hiding in dense vegetation. They remain dependent on their parents for food up to about 4 weeks of age, only dispersing about another 4-12 weeks later.


Near-threatened, due its fragmented and localised distribution, and because it is not particularly common in protected areas. In fact, most of its population is located in degraded communal tribal land in south-eastern Botswana, where changes in land use could cause serious problems for the species.


  • 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.