Asian Short-toed Lark Alaudala cheleensis Scientific name definitions

Per Alström, Sundev Gombobaatar, and Paul F. Donald
Version: 2.0 — Published October 24, 2023

Plumages, Molts, and Structure


The content below is mainly based on the authors' personal experience, and drawing from the literature (e.g., 1).

Natal Down

Young nestlings have creamy whitish down feathers (G.S.).

Juvenile Plumage

The juvenile plumage is similar to that of other Alaudala larks. It has whitish or pale buff fringes on the crown, upperparts, secondary coverts and tertials, creating a scaled effect, which is quite different from the adult plumage. Moreover, it has more rounded, less-dark and more diffuse spots on the breast than in adult.

Adult (Definitive) Plumage

The upperparts are pale gray brown with a variable buffish tinge, and show distinct, rather narrow, blackish-brown streaks. The face pattern is rather indistinct, usually showing a diffuse whitish or, when fresh, pale buffish supercilium and pale area below the eye, and pale brownish ear coverts with variably distinct dark streaking. It often shows an indistinct dark moustachial stripe and malar stripe, as well as a pale patch on the lower anterior ear coverts. The underparts are whitish or, when fresh, pale buffish, usually slightly more buffish on the breast, with distinct dark streaks across the breast and often also on the flanks. The streaks on the breast can be needle thin and, in the center, very sparse, especially in worn plumage (spring–summer). The secondary coverts and tertials are medium or dark gray brown with pale tips and edges when fresh, varying from whitish to buff. The remiges and rectrices are dark gray brown or blackish brown, with thin pale tips to the primaries when fresh, and the outermost rectrix has white outer web and a prominent white wedge on the inner web, which usually broadly extends across the tip of the inner web (see Table 1 for details). The difference between fresh and worn plumage can be quite noticeable. In general, the plumage is more warmly colored and the streaks are less prominent in fresh plumage than in worn plumage, and dark parts, such as the flight feathers and centers to the secondary coverts and tertials, wear and fade paler (the remiges are less resistant to wear than those of the Turkestan Short-toed Lark (Alaudala heinei)).


No detailed information is available on the molt of the Asian Short-toed Lark. Adults have a single, complete molt each year, which takes place after breeding, and juveniles undergo a complete post-juvenile molt (P.A., P.F.D., G.S.).

Bare Parts

The content below is based on the authors' personal experience.


The bill is pale brownish yellow with darker gray tip and usually also slightly darker gray culmen.

Iris and Facial Skin

The iris is dark brown.

Tarsi and Toes

The tarsi, toes, and claws are pale pinkish.


The following is from Alström et al. (1), and combines all subspecies of the Asian Short-toed Lark: Table 1.

Recommended Citation

Alström, P., S. Gombobaatar, and P. F. Donald (2023). Asian Short-toed Lark (Alaudala cheleensis), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.
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