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the web of life in southern Africa

Pinarocorys nigricans (Dusky lark) 

Donkerlewerik [Afrikaans]; Yisimatuli (generic term for lark) [Kwangali]; Xihelagadzi (generic term for lark or pipit) [Tsonga]; Lijsterleeuwerik [Dutch]; Alouette brune [French]; Drossellerche [German]; Cotovia-sombria [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

Pinarocorys nigricans (Dusky lark) Pinarocorys nigricans (Dusky lark) 

Dusky lark. [photo Neil Gray ]

Dusky lark. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ]

Distribution and habitat

Its breeding grounds stretch from Tanzana through DRC to northern Zambia and Angola; in the non-breeding season it heads south to southern Africa. Here it is locally fairly common in mesic and semi-arid savanna and woodland, especially grassy patches bordering on bushwillows (Combretum) or other mixed woodland such as Mopane (Colosphermum mopane). It may also occupy heavily grazed cattle paddocks and gravel roads in savanna.

Distribution of Dusky 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.  

Movements and migrations

Intra-African breeding migrant, breeding in winter in the miombo (Brachystegia) woodlands of central Africa and moving in small groups (occasionally large flocks) south to southern Africa in summer, arriving around October-December. It eventually leaves the region in the period from April-June.


It eats insects supplemented with seeds, doing most of its foraging on the ground, plucking food items from soil, cow or antelope dung and the bases of grass tufts. It is quite an opportunistic feeder, taking insects flushed by grazing mammals, breaking open dead branches in search of termites. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


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.