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Order Song birds/Passeriformes, Family Larks/Alaudidae

Wood Lark/Lullula arborea - Adult

L 13½-15 cm. Breeds in open forests, preferring pine on sandy soil, but also in mixed or broadleaved forests with clearings and on heathland with scattered copses. Resident in Britain; increasing. N European birds migrate to S Europe. Rather shy and difficult to approach.

IDENTIFICATION

Rather small, brown and short-tailed. Often perches exposed in trees, bushes or on wires, unlike other larks (though spends most of the time on ground). Can recall small woodpecker in undulating flight with short, broad wings and stubby tail! Tail tipped white (adding to the short impression when seen against a bright sky). Sides of tail not white (as on Skylark) but pale brown, and trailing edge of wing on adult not light. When perched, note characteristic light-dark-light pattern near bend of wing (primary coverts dark with buff-white tips, and white patch at their base); also broad buffish-white supercilia reaching far back (almost joining on hindneck). Song mostly delivered in drifting song-flight high up (100-150 m), often at very first light, or even beneath stars on pitch-dark night.

VOICE

Call a soft whistling yodel, ‘tlewee-tlewee’ or more feebly ‘düdluee’, often revealing overflying small parties in autumn or spring. Song is one of the most attractive, consisting of pleasant and ‘sweet but melancholy’ notes in series, opening hesitantly, accelerating, often falling in pitch and gaining in loudness, e.g. ‘lee, lee-lee-leeleeleeleelülu… ee-lü ee-lü ee-lü ee-lü-eelu-eelueelu… tluee, tluee tluee vi vi vi tellellellell…’, etc.

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