home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Mirafra africana (Rufous-naped lark) 

Rooineklewerik [Afrikaans]; Igwangqa, Iqabathule [Xhosa]; uNgqangendlela, uNongqwashi [Zulu]; Yisimatuli (generic term for lark) [Kwangali]; Tsiroane [South Sotho]; Mapuluhweni (generic term for lark) [Tsonga]; Sebotha (generic term for lark) [Tswana]; Roodnekleeuwerik [Dutch]; Alouette nuque rousse [French]; Rotnackenlerche [German]; Cotovia-de-nuca-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: Mirafra

Mirafra africana (Rufous-naped lark)  Mirafra africana (Rufous-naped lark) 
Rufous-naped lark, photo Johann Grobbelaar ] Rufous-naped lark, Ozambeni, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]
Mirafra africana (Rufous-naped lark)  Mirafra africana (Rufous-naped lark) 

Rufous-naped lark. [photo Neil Gray ]

Rufous-naped lark. [photo Jim Scarff ]

Distribution and habitat

Although it has scattered populations across much of West Africa, the bulk of its distribution lies from Kenya and Tanzania to Angola, Zambia and southern Africa. Here it is fairly common to common in a wide variety of open habitats with grass, such as savanna, open woodland grassy fynbos, fallow fields and open ground near cultivated land. It dislikes dense grassland, as it prefers having bare patches of soil for foraging and scattered bush and fence poles to use for singing.

Distribution of Rufous-naped 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 mainly eats arthropods supplemented with seeds, doing most of its foraging on the ground, gleaning food from the bases of plants and taking termites as they emerge from their mound. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest (see image below) is a partially or completely domed cup of dry grass, lined with finer plant material. It is typically placed in a scrape in the ground at the base of a grass tuft or shrub.
Mirafra africana (Rufous-naped lark)  

Rufous-naped lark nest with eggs, Sericea farm, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ]

  • Egg-laying season is from July-April, peaking from October-February.
  • It lays 2-3, rarely 4 eggs, which are incubated for about 14-15 days.
  • The female broods the chicks and does most of their feeding, while the male contributes to a lesser extent. The young eventually leave the nest after about 10-12 days, 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.