Singing Skylarks

Singing Skylarks



Skylark on the ground (Photo by Varuna Abeyratne).


In early January I joined in a trip to Mannar arranged by a family of my friend birders. During our birding sessions there I came across several pairs of Oriental Skylarks (Alauda gulgula) occupying a fairly large grass flat together with other garland birds, i.e. Bushlarks, pipits. Male skylarks are singing one at a time quite often there indicated they are getting ready to breed soon. The skylark sings in flight very high up over the ground, hence the name ‘skylark’, and it is a prolong song delivered while the bird is still in flight. It’s a fascinating singing behaviour to watch. Male starts singing as it begins to fly off from the ground vertically and continues to sing till it reaches quite high up when it’s seen as a speck in the sky. Once it reaches the required height it stops and keeps hovering and singing from one place for a while, and then slowly moves around with stops over its occupied territory on the ground. The continuous singing would usually last between one and two minutes and it then descends to the ground quite rapidly with stopping the singing just before it touches the ground. Sometime later a male of another pair in the vicinity performs this singing behaviour, and it is followed by other males in turns.  It was a very interesting to watch all these skylarks popping up over the ground one after the other singing their long songs. 


Male singing in flight (Photo by Varuna Abeyratne).




In fact it is the longest continuous single song delivered non-stop in one singing session that I have experienced amongst our songbirds here, and I believe it is true for all the skylark species worldwide amongst the world songbirds. In the grass flat the males some times sang over two minutes in the sky and one male astonished me with singing for nearly six and half minutes continuously in the sky. There I was overwhelmed by these skylarks with their singing performance. I selected a couple of spots in the grass flat to record these singing skylarks.


At times males sing while on the ground but, song is not long as they sing in flight.



Male singing on the ground (Photo by Varuna Abeyratne)




While walking to a suitable recording spot (Photo by Varuna Abeyratne).




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