Woodlark (Lullula arborea)

The Woodlark is Britain's second breeding lark, after the more widespread Skylark, and is found in small numbers in the south-west of England.

The Woodlark is named after its 'Lu Lu Lu' song, and is the only member of the resulting 'Lullula' genus.

The Woodlark is rare, with around 1,500 breeding pairs, although it has recovered from a low of 240 pairs in 1986. A lack of suitable areas of mixed vegetation is probably one reason for the decline.

The male Woodlark has a different singing pattern to the familiar Skylark. Where the Skylark hovers as it sings, the Woodlark flies in circles at around 40-100m above the ground.

The Woodlark is a ground feeder. During the breeding season it mainly feeds on insects, but in the winter it turns to seeds, including some conifer seeds and grass seeds.

The Woodlark migrates south within the UK during the winter, moving south in September-October and back north between late January and March. Southern birds probably cross the channel.

The Woodlark is smaller than the Skylark, and has a shorter tail. It has a brown plumage with lighter streaks, white underparts and a white band just above the eyes. It also has rusty-brown patches just behind the eyes. The tail has white corners, the wings look broad when in flight. The head feathers can be raised into a small crest. The Woodlark has a rather jerky flight.

The Woodlark breeds from March until June. Both adults build several hollows, before the female picks one to turn into the next, lining it with grass and hair. The female lays three to five eggs. The eggs are incubated for 12-15 days. The chicks can fly 10-13 days after hatching. Both parents feed the chicks, and the family groups remain close into autumn. The Woodlark can raise two or three broods each year, with the male looking after the earlier clutches while the female broods later eggs.

The Woodlark lives in heaths, open woodland and young conifer plantations. It can be seen perching on trees, but feeds in areas of short grass. It also needs longer grass or similar vegetation for its nesting areas and taller trees or bushes for singing.

Order: Passeriformes (Perching Birds)
Suborder: Passeri (Oscines) (Songbirds)
Family: Alaudidae
Genus: Lullula (from the song)
Species: arborea (wood)

In the UK it is normally found in the south of England, in a band stretching east from Devon and Cornwall. It is also found in East Anglia and Lincolnshire, normally as a winter visitor. Outside the UK it can be found across Europe, from the Mediterranean to southern Scandinavia and into western Russia, in Asia Minor and across to Iran and on the western half of the North African coast.

Physical Details
Length: 15cm
Weight: 21-35g (male), 30-35g (female)