Archer's Lark

Information about the Bird Archer's Lark

Archer's lark (Heteromirafra archeri) is a species of lark in the Alaudidae family. It is found in Somalia and Ethiopia. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry shrubland and subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland. It is threatened by habitat loss. The bird-s common name and binomial commemorate the British explorer and colonial official Sir Geoffrey Francis Archer.

Archer-s lark is about 14cm long, with a relatively large head and short, plump body. It has buff underparts with a streaky breast. Its plumage is predominantly brown and reddish brown. It has a short, thin tail which is brown with white outer feathers. The call is unknown. The Sidamo lark was previously considered distinct, but most taxonomists consider the bird to conspecific with Archer's lark.
The birds are largely terrestrial and their behaviour is cryptic. Though quite capable of flight, they often prefer to conceal themselves in vegetation.
Nests have been found in summer. Clutch-size is three.
Its diet is likely to consist of seeds and small invertebrates, including worms.
The bird's preferred habitat is open grasslands and rocky country, vegetated with tussocky perennial grasses and having an annual rainfall of 300-400mm. The birds have not been recorded from the Wajaale clay plains on the border of Ethiopia and Somaliland since 1922. Since its initial discovery in 1922, the bird's range is reported to have declined to an area of only 2km2 in Somalia, because of habitat loss.
The population is estimated to number 50-250 mature individuals, based on a lack of confirmed sightings despite several searches having been conducted since 1955 in Somalia and Ethiopia. One of the last possible sightings of the bird was in Ethiopia in 2003. The species was declared critically endangered in 2005, although, because of its elusiveness, no conversation efforts have been attempted.
In 2011, David Hoddinott and his bird watching group had a sighting of a bird that may have been an Archer's lark in north-eastern Ethiopia. They were able to get a photograph which is being studied to confirm the observation.
Since 1922 much former habitat in Somalia has been occupied by refugees and turned into farmland. Grassland is being degraded by invasive Parthenium hysterophorus. Apart from habitat loss to agriculture, pastoralism and invasive weeds, threats include wildfire, severe weather events and climate change.

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