If seen singing, the skylark is unmistakeable. A streaky brown bird with a crest, the skylark is larger, with a longer tail, than the woodlark (a rare bird of heathland and woodland edge in south-east England). It is much larger than the meadow pipit, which has a thinner bill and no crest, but is a similar size to the corn bunting which has a much thicker bill.
Male skylarks can be spotted rising almost vertically from farmland, grassland, salt marshes and moorland and effortlessly hovering and singing from a great height before parachuting back down to earth. Long complicated, beautiful song-flights can last for up to an hour and the birds can reach 300m before descending. They’ll also sing from perches such as fence posts or large rocks. Despite their aerial activities, skylarks nest on the ground, laying three to four eggs. Chicks become independent after only two weeks and parents can have up to four broods in a breeding season.
- Length: 18cm
- Wingspan: 33cm
- Weight: 35-40g
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Classified in the UK as a Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
When to see
January – December
- The song of the skylark has been the subject of many works of literature and music, from Chaucer to Shelley, Vaughan Williams to jazz.