Information about the Bird Ash's Lark
The bird's common name and Latin binomial commemorate the British ornithologist John Sidney Ash.Ash's lark (Mirafra ashi) is a species of lark in the Alaudidae family. It is endemic to Somalia.
Ash's lark is typically 14 centimetres (5.5in) in length. It has greyish-brown upperparts with paler edging to its mantle feathers, a buff-coloured underbelly and underparts with brownish streaks, a paler belly and vent, a light crest, and buff eyebrow stripes.
Such a description is insufficient, however, since as with some other lark species it is difficult to definitively describe the bird without comparison to its close relatives. In the case of Ash's lark, it is smaller than the rufous-naped lark (M. africana) or the red-winged lark (M. hypermetra), and more greyish and marked on its mantle than either the singing lark (M. cantillans) (which has a thicker bill) or the pink-breasted lark (M. poecilosterna) (which has a pinkish breast).
Its songs have yet to be identified.
Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland. Typical behaviour is to run across bare ground between bunches of grass prior to perching atop a tussock. It is threatened by habitat loss to coastal development.
At present there exists only a very sketchy understanding of M. ashi's ecological relationships at best.
While there is a clearer understanding of its population and distribution than of its ecology, data from recent decades in this regard has been greatly lacking. Political unrest has prevented solid fieldwork in the region for many years.
The only place known to be home to M. ashi is the a small area just north of Uarsciek in south-eastern Somalia, about 80 kilometres (50mi) north of Mogadishu. Even here where it is locally common, however, Ash's lark is easily overlooked because it shares the area with nine other species of lark, including the red-winged lark (M. hypermetra hypermetra) and the Somali long-billed lark (M. somalica rochei). It is possible that Ash's lark is also present along the coast somewhat to the north of its known range, since much of this land is a still a mystery to ornithologists.
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