Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)

Song: Song is given on the ground and in flight. When given on the ground, the bird usually stands on a rock or some other high point (Verbeek 1967). Flight songs can last up to 11 minutes, with the performing bird hovering between bouts of song to maintain his position. They spread their wings and tails as they sing (Verbeek 1967).

There are two basic forms of the song, the Intermittent and the Recitative. The Intermittent is more common and shorter, 3 to 4 short sharp notes followed by a flurry of various sharp and tinkling notes, the whole usually rising in pitch, but sometimes dropping again at the end, and lasting 2-3 seconds. The Recitative is a longer series of somewhat random notes, more evenly spaced, and usually ends with the same flurry of tinkling notes as the Intermittent song (Beason 1974).

Female Horned Larks sometimes give short undeveloped snatches of song (Sutton 1927).

Horned Lark, Intermittent Song, April 10, 2011, Buena Vista Grasslands, Portage County, Wisconsin.

Call: The common call note is a two-syllable su-weet, sometimes reduced to one syllable, and given with a great deal of variation in form and amplitude. The quality is high, squeaky and often somewhat weak.

Horned Lark, call, February 27, 2011, Racine County, Wisconsin.


Beason, R. C. and E. C. Franks. 1974. Breeding behavior of the Horned Lark. Auk 91:65-74.

Sutton, G. M. 1927. Flocking, mating, and nest-building habits of the Prairie Horned Lark. Wilson Bull. 34:131-141.

Verbeek, N. A. M. 1967. Breeding biology and ecology of the Horned Lark in alpine tundra. Wilson Bull. 79:208-218.