SPECIES

Sand Lark Alaudala raytal Scientific name definitions

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

Photos from this Account

Sand Lark (Alaudala raytal)

Sand Lark is extremely similar in appearance to Turkestan Short-toed Lark and Asian Short-toed Lark. There is no single diagnostic plumage character to separate them in the field, and identification relies more on careful analysis of size and structure. Compared to these two confusion species, Sand Lark is smaller and has a proportionately thinner bill, shorter primary projection, and a proportionately shorter tail. However, these characters are variable, with some overlap (there is hardly any overlap in size, but that is very hard to judge in the field).

Possible confusion species: Turkestan Short-toed Lark (Alaudala heinei)

Turkestan Short-toed Lark differs from Sand Lark primarily in being larger and having a shorter, thicker bill, longer primary projection, and a proportionately longer tail.

Possible confusion species: Asian Short-toed Lark (Alaudala cheleensis)

Asian Short-toed Lark differs from Sand Lark primarily in being larger and having a shorter, thicker bill, longer primary projection, and a proportionately longer tail.

Nominate subspecies (raytal) juvenile.

The juvenile plumage of the nominate subspecies (raytal) are very pale sandy. White fringes on wings, scapulars and crown are visible, creating a scaled effect.

Subspecies adamsi juvenile, lateral view.

The juvenile plumage in the subspecies adamsi varies from the pale sandy seen here to pale brownish. White fringes on wings, scapulars and crown are visible, creating a scaled effect.

Subspecies krishnakumarsinhji juvenile, lateral view.

Juveniles of the subspecies krishnakumarsinhji are variable, some being rather dark. Neat whitish fringes to crown, scapulars and wings separate from adult.

Showing plumage wear
Showing plumage wear
Nominate subspecies (raytal) adult, moderately worn plumage, dorsolateral view.

Note the thin, pointed, slightly decurved bill typical of the nominate subspecies.

Nominate subspecies (raytal) adult, frontolateral view.

Note the fine dark streaks across the breast. Whitish below; legs pinkish.

Subspecies krishnakumarsinhji adult, moderately worn plumage, lateral view.

The bill is proportionately shorter and thicker than in the nominate subspecies.

Subspecies krishnakumarsinhji adult, moderately worn plumage, lateral view.

A dark and very heavily streaked individual, considerably darker and more heavily streaked than the nominate subspecies.

Subspecies krishnakumarsinhji adult, moderately worn plumage, lateral view.

A dark and very heavily streaked individual, considerably darker and more heavily streaked than the nominate subspecies.

Subspecies adamsi adult, rather fresh plumage, lateral view.

Cold sandy-gray upperparts with diffuse streaking, strongest on crown and to a lesser extent on scapulars. Note the very short primary projection beyond the tertials.

Subspecies adamsi adult, moderately worn plumage, lateral view.

Compared to fresh plumage, shows more distinct streaking above, and more worn wing coverts and tertials with less distinct pale tips and edges.

Subspecies adamsi adult, moderately worn plumage, lateral view.

Heavily streaked crown and sparsely streaked breast. A somewhat strong-billed individual.

Bird at Irrawaddy River in Myanmar.
Bird in its habitat; Hormozgan, Iran (subspecies adamsi).
Bird in its habitat; Assam, India (subspecies raytal).
Bird in its habitat; Magway, Myanmar (subspecies raytal).
Foraging in the sand by the Damodar River.

Often seen digging up snails, worms, and insects in the ground by rivers.

Feeding on seeds/grain from the ground.

Individual seeds/grains are picked up in the bill and swallowed whole.

Group at artificial drinking bowl.

It is common to see several individuals drinking water together.

Dust bathing.

During dust bathing, Sand Larks lower themselves on the ground and put their belly in sand, dried mud, or soil and vigorously shake themselves, spraying the dust all over the body.

Dust bathing.

The head is often twisted during dust bathing so that the crown is also dusted.

Stretching wing.

Stretching is occasionally done when foraging or feeding, possibly as a form of sun-bathing or to realign the feathers.

Stretching on one leg.

Stretching of wings or tail is often done on one leg.

Roosting on the ground in the shade.

Roosting is often done in the shade of electricity poles or other man-made structures.

Courtship display

The male displays to the female on the ground by lowering his wings and raising his crown feathers

Courtship display.

The male may catch an insect and offer it to the female as part of a courtship display.

Nest under roofing sheet.

In salt pans in Bhavnagar, nest building was observed under an unused PVC roofing sheet lying on the ground amidst stones and bricks.

Individual with bill deformity in Pong Dam, Himachal Pradesh.
Adult with bill and foot deformity.

Note the lower mandible, which is longer than usual, and the deformed foot.

Individual in salt pans near Morbi, Gujarat with a bill deformity.
Individual with tumor on breast.

Causes and effects of the tumor on the bird are unknown; however, movement and foraging habits appeared to be normal.

Individual with tumor on breast.

Causes and effects of the tumor on the bird are unknown; however, movement and foraging habits appeared to be normal.


Macaulay Library Photos for Sand Lark

Top-rated photos submitted to the Macaulay Library via eBird. Note: Our content editors have not confirmed the species identification for these photos.

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