lark, common name for members of the large family Alaudidae, perching birds of terrestrial habits, chiefly of the Old World and best-known through the skylark, Alauda arvensis. The horned larks belong to the one species native to North America, Eremophila alpestris. They vary in color and markings in different geographical areas but are generally protectively plumaged in mixed browns and grays above, with light underparts and with black and yellow or white about the head and throat. Dark feathers form the tufts on their heads. On the ground they run rather than hop. They have a melodious flight song. The prairie lark is a subspecies. The meadowlark belongs to the family Icteridae. The 75 species of larks are fairly similar in their habits and appearance. They are found in meadows, plains, beaches, and other open areas. They are omnivorous. With the exception of the bush lark, genus Mirafra, larks lay their eggs (two to six per clutch) in open nests on the ground. Bush larks have domed nests. The female almost exclusively incubates the eggs for three to four weeks. Larks are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Alaudidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.