Crested Lark Galerida cristata
Crested Lark, Xerocampos, Crete, October 2002 - click for larger image The Crested lark is found in most countries of continental Europe except Scandinavia. It is also found in north Africa, central Asia as far as eastern India and China and most of the Middle East. See the distribution map at Birdlife International.
Crested Lark, Kato Zacro, Crete, October 2002 - click for larger image Photos 1 to 3 were taken in Crete and show the subspecies G. c. meridionalis which is slightly darker than the nominate sub-species. Photos 4 and 5 were taken in Abu Dhabi where the subspecies has not been positively identified but may be G. c. tardinata. which is rather pale. Photo 6 from Morocco shows the sub-species G. c. riggenbachi with its heavily streaked cinnamon-buff breast and shortish bill while photo 7 from further south in Morocco shows the sub-species G. c. macrorhyncha distinguished by its long bill.

Crested Lark, Xerocampos, Crete, October 2002 - click for larger image Its favoured habitat is open, dry and relatively flat country with low, sparse vegetation. It doesn't like to feel hemmed in and so is also attracted to areas such as playing fields, railway yards and even harbours provided there are grass seeds available.

Although it eats mainly seeds, it also eats invertebrates such as beetles. Photos 4 and 5 show some sort of grub in the bill of the bird.

Crested Lark, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, March 2010 - click for larger image It is marginally larger than Skylark Alauda arvensis, looks greyer and has a longer crest which is visible at the rear of the head even when folded (as in photo 1) whereas the shorter crest of the Skylark is invisible when folded. It has a long, pointed bill with a straight lower edge to the mandible.

The song is long and varied and often contains imitations of other birds. The commonest call is a musical "twee-tee-too"

Crested Lark, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, March 2010 - click for larger image
Crested Lark, Asni Valley, Morocco, April 2014 - click for larger image
Crested Lark, Ouarzazate, Morocco, April 2014 - click for larger image
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