SPECIES

Sand Lark Alaudala raytal Scientific name definitions

Prasad Ganpule and Per Alström
Version: 2.0 — Published May 7, 2022

Diet and Foraging

Introduction

Food poorly known. Mainly insects and seeds.

Feeding

Main Foods Taken

Feeds on seeds and grain as well as various types of invertebrates including insects, worms, and snails.

Microhabitat for Foraging

In salt pans, it is seen catching insects around small bushes/plants on the margins of their natural habitat or on the road. Often alights in a small patch of grass and flush insects, which are then caught. They regularly frequent places where people put out seeds and grains. During 10 hours of observation in Gujarat, Sand Lark was never seen perching on trees or shrubs to catch insects (PG); they were only observed foraging on the ground. In Little Rann of Kachchh, they are frequently found foraging in the dried rann in the winter, looking for grass seeds and insects.

Sand Lark forages in the sand and grass around the margins of large rivers and the islands in rivers, where it catch snails, worms, and insects. In Myanmar, it may be observed scavenging in the debris around fishermen's huts or in pea fields, but it normally forages only on the barest and most open stretches of land (40).

Food Capture and Consumption

Mainly hunts for insects by running on the ground in short spurts. Seeds and grains are also taken from the ground. It picks up individual seeds and grains with its bill and swallows them whole. It also digs up worms and snails from mud and wet sand and swallows them.

Diet

Major Food Items

Feeds on seeds, especially of Salsola and Suaeda and other Chenopodiaceae (which predominate in Sand Lark's preferred habitat). In Gujarat in western India, the adamsi subspecies is regularly seen feeding on grains/cereals/seeds of, e.g., millet, sorghum and wheat, put by locals around small temples within its habitat (PG). Also catches various types of insects, including carpenter ants, termites, grasshoppers, beetles, as well as other anthropods, small snails (of genera Planorbis and Corbicula), worms, and other invertebrates. The nestlings are almost exclusively fed insects, and there were no observations of giving seeds/grains to fledglings in over 10 days of observations near Jamnagar, in Gujarat (PG). Data from other parts of its range are not available.

Food Selection and Storage

Apparently does not store food.

Nutrition and Energetics

No information available.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Sand Lark is often seen panting with its beak open in the hot months (April and May) in Gujarat, India, and in other parts of its range in northern and eastern India (PG). In the summer, it is frequently seen in the shade of man-made structures in salt pans. Sits on the ground in the shadows of plants or electricity poles on hot afternoons in western India. Panting and standing in the shade in the hot months in India are assumed to be for temperature regulation.

Drinking, Pellet-Casting, and Defecation

Drinking

In the morning and evenings, Sand Lark frequently visit natural drinking spots and artificial drinking bowls kept for birds in and around salt pans, mud-flats, and other areas in Gujarat, western India (PG). Often, a few individuals are seen together at such drinking spots, dipping their beaks in the water to drink. Sand Lark drinks less frequently in the afternoons in Gujarat, India. The exact frequency of drinking is not known. In other parts of its range, information about drinking is lacking.

Pellet-Casting

Not observed to cast pellets.

Defecation

Defecates while feeding and foraging. The frequency of defecation is not known.

Recommended Citation

Ganpule, P. and P. Alström (2022). Sand Lark (Alaudala raytal), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (N. D. Sly, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.sanlar1.02