SPECIES

Mongolian Short-toed Lark Calandrella dukhunensis Scientific name definitions

Per Alström and Sundev Gombobaatar
Version: 2.0 — Published September 17, 2021

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

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Introduction

The following is based on 4.

Vocalizations

Vocal Array

The following is based on 4 complemented by sound recordings of calls of migrants provided by Paul Holt.

Songs

The song is a continuous quick-paced ramble of notes of varying pitch, duration and quality, including whistles and short clicking notes, as well as mimicry (e.g., masterful imitations of Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus have been noted, which must have been learnt in the winter quarters, as this species is not found on or near the breeding grounds of Mongolian Short-toed Lark). The notes are often repeated several times, frequently as fast rattles. The repertoire of notes is very large, although no attempt has been made at quantifying this. The song has been noted to continue for up to ca 6 min . The song differs markedly from that of the Greater Short-toed Lark, mainly in being continuous without regular silent pauses. The song of Greater Short-toed Lark is divided into short strophes separated by pronounced silent pauses (strophes 0.6–2.0 s, mean 1.2 s, ±0.2 SD; pauses 0.4–5.2 s, mean 2.9 s, ±0.8 SD; n= 228 strophes, 24 individuals). See 4 for more details and sonograms.

Calls

The commonest flight calls during migration consist of fast, bouncing series , e.g., heu-du-du-du or tru-du-du-du-du and single or repeated slightly harsh cherp, chep, trup or chup. Also gives a short soft heu. Most of these calls are markedly different from the corresponding calls of Greater Short-toed Lark, which are short, dry trrep; trrip; trriep; trre-dip, or similar, often two or more given in quick succession, e.g., trrep-trrip or tre-tre-trrep. Greater Short-toed Lark also frequently gives a short soft heu, which sounds identical to the corresponding call of Mongolian Short-toed Lark. See 4 for sonograms.

When alarmed near the nest, Mongolian Short-toed Lark gives rattles of hard clicks at different speed as well as sometimes short shrill, harsh whistled tzrriep. These alarm calls are clearly different from the ones given by Greater Short-toed Lark, which are more similar to its usual flight calls. See 4 for sonograms.

Short, harsh, metallic bzzp are heard from flocks of Mongolian Short-toed Lark during migration and in winter. Greater Short-toed Lark gives at least somewhat similar calls, and no study of these has been undertaken.

Phenology

The song is given on the breeding grounds, and the calls are given throughout the year (alarm calls probably only near the nest).

Places of Vocalizing

The song is mainly given in flight, less commonly from a low perch, such as a stone or low bush, e.g. Caragana spp.

Repertoire and Delivery of Songs

During the song-flight the bird rises with rather quick wing-beats and slightly fanned tail, and then flies around in irregular loops with persistently beating wings. At the peak elevation, the wing-beats may slow down a little. The bird sings all the time, including during the ascent, until it either plunges silently to the ground from the peak height or ascends somewhat before the final silent plunge to the ground.

Confusion Species

Vocalizations are clearly different from those of its main confusion species, Greater Short-toed Lark, Asian Short-toed Lark and Hume's Lark. The song-flight differs slightly from that of Greater Short-toed Lark. The latter has a markedly undulating flight path once the peak has been reached because the wings are now and then fully closed for a split-second, and while the song is delivered, the bird glides briefly on extended wings.

Recommended Citation

Alström, P. and S. Gombobaatar (2021). Mongolian Short-toed Lark (Calandrella dukhunensis), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.sstlar4.02