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Chersomanes albofasciata (Spike-heeled lark) 

Vlaktelewerik [Afrikaans]; Ungqembe, Ungqwembe [Xhosa]; Sjirpleeuwerik [Dutch]; Alouette éperonnée [French]; Zirplerche [German]; Cotovia-esporada [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

Chersomanes albofasciata (Spike-heeled lark)
Spike-heeled lark. [photo Neil Gray ©] Spike-heeled lark, Port Nolloth, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]
Chersomanes albofasciata (Spike-heeled lark)

Spike-heeled lark, Etosha National Park, Namibia. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Spike-heeled lark juvenile. [photo Neil Gray ©]

Distribution and habitat

Near-endemic to southern Africa, occurring from south-western Angola through to Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. It generally prefers sparse grassland, desert grassland and shrubland, generally avoiding croplands and cultivated pastures.

Distribution of Spike-heeled 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.  

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of the following animals:


It mainly eats invertebrates and seeds, doing most of its foraging in the ground, plucking food from the soil surface or from the bases of grasses and forbs. It often looks for food around rodent burrows, and it may even take prey aerially or from the leaves of shrubs. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest (see image below) is built by both sexes in about 5 days, consisting of a open cup built of dry grass, twigs and rootlets. It is typically placed in an shallow excavated hole in the ground, usually at the base of a grass tuft or shrub. In arid areas it is often placed in a clump of stones and sticks; facing south or east to maximise shade in the heat of the day.
Chersomanes albofasciata (Spike-heeled lark)  

Spike-heeled lark nest with eggs, Wakkerstroom, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • It often lays its eggs in response to rainfall, with the egg-laying season generally peaking around August-December.
  • It lays 2-3 sometimes up to 5 eggs (only after heavy rainfall), which are incubated solely by the female for about 12-13 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 8-12 days, before they are able to fly. They usually become independent a few days later.


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.