(Chestnut-backed sparrowlark, Chestnutbacked finchlark)
Rooiruglewerik [Afrikaans]; Ruruworo, Tjowe (generic terms
for sparrowlark and Pink-billed lark) [Kwangali]; ’Maliberoane, ’Mamphemphe
[South Sotho]; Bruinrug-vinkleeuwerik [Dutch]; Moinelette à oreillons
blancs [French]; Weißwangenlerche [German];
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fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial
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(four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota >
Reptilia (reptiles) >
Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria >
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Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves
Order: Passeriformes > Family: Alaudidae
> Genus: Eremopterix
Chestnut-backed sparrowlark male. [photo
Chestnut-backed sparrowlark female. [photo
Distribution and habitat
Occurs in a band from Senegal to Ethiopia, with a separate
population from Malawi to southern Zambia, Angola and southern Africa. Here it
is locally common in short grassland and semi-arid savanna woodland, especially
in recently burnt areas; it may also occupy croplands, road verges, fallow
fields and airstrips.
Distribution of Chestnut-backed sparrowlark in southern Africa,
based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas
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 taken from cultivated cereal crops or
grasses, supplemented with invertebrates (especially during the breeding season).
It lives and forages in groups of 5-50 birds in the non-breeding season,
occasionally up to several hundred.
- Both sexes build the nest, which is a cup of dry grass and rootlets placed
in a shallow excavated depression in the ground. It is often positioned
against a grass tuft or stone in recently fallowed agricultural land, with
clods of dirt or stones surrounding the entrance.
- Egg-laying season is year-round, varying from region to region.
Generally in arid areas (such as Botswana) it begins during rains in
January-March, where as in more moist regions (such as Zimbabwe and eastern
South Africa) it begins after rainfall from February-September (peaking from
- It lays 1-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 11 days,
with the female taking the night shift and the male helping her in the day.
- The chicks are brooded and fed by both parents, leaving the nest at
about 10-12 days old, before they are able to fly.
Not threatened, in fact it has adapted well to the
introduction of agriculture.
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.