Bird Families

Horned lark, or rum


It is found in Ethiopia, Israel, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, subtropical or tropical dry lowland field, and hot deserts.

The male chestnut-headed sparrow lark has a black collar and bib, white cheeks, and a white circular area at the back of the crown surrounded by a chestnut border. This sets him apart from Fisher's lark sparrow, Eremopterix leucopareiawhich lacks a white spot. The woman has a dull plumage.

This bird is usually found in pairs or small flocks of up to forty birds, often around watering holes. It flies low to the ground and can sing in flight or while standing on bare ground.


The Horned Lark, or Rum (lat.Eremophila alpestris) belongs to the Lark family (Alaudidae) from the order Passeriformes and is one of the most numerous and widespread representatives of it.

Although the population has shown a slight declining trend in recent decades, it remains very high and is estimated at approximately 140 million adults.

The bird got its name because of the plumage on the head, resembling small horns.

In 2020, in Yakutia, in the permafrost region near the banks of the Tirekhtyakh stream in the Indigirka river basin, a frozen carcass of a horned lark was discovered. According to radioisotope dating, its age is about 42,600 years.

The species was first described in 1758 by the Swedish naturalist Karl Linnaeus.


The habitat is in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia and northwest Africa. More than 40 subspecies are known, most of which live in North America. The nominative subspecies is distributed in the eastern provinces of Canada, Central America, China, Nepal, India and Alaska.

The isolated subspecies Eremophila alpestris peregrine is found in the highlands of Colombia and is the only lark in South America.

Northern populations make seasonal migrations to the south, while southern populations live sedentary or are considered partial migrants. Birds settle mainly in open landscapes. They are attracted by prairies, alpine meadows, fields and tundra. They categorically avoid any forests.

In close proximity to humans, horned larks are often found on agricultural land. They spend most of their time on the soil surface.

In mountainous areas, ryum is observed at altitudes up to 2000 m above sea level. The total area of ​​the occupied area exceeds 10 million square kilometers.


Outside the breeding season, horned larks form large flocks and can live in colonies. They lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle and usually fly little, walking slowly on the ground. Only during the mating season, these birds make circling flights at an altitude of about 100 m for several minutes.

In the air, they sing their melodious songs, consisting of long phrases and short pauses. They often imitate the calls of other birds.

Horned larks nest on the ground, so their only defense against carnivorous predators is a discreet camouflage color.

Their main natural enemies are striped raccoons (Procyon lotor), striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) and domestic cats.

In case of danger, chicks remain motionless and almost imperceptible in dense grass. However, the mortality rate among them is very high.


Ryum is one of the omnivorous birds. Its diet is varied and depends on the season. In summer, it is dominated by food of animal origin. During this period, birds eat a variety of invertebrate animals: land snails, arachnids, millipedes, worms, insects and their larvae.

In autumn, birds feed mostly on seeds, grains, fruits, berries and nuts. In winter, the diet consists almost entirely of vegetarian food.

Horned larks find food exclusively on the soil surface.


Sexual maturity occurs at the age of one. The mating season in most of the range takes place in the spring from early March or April and can last until summer. Depending on climatic conditions, from one to three broods.

The birds form monogamous couples that break up after the breeding season ends.

The singing of males is multifaceted and polyphonic. On the one hand, it serves to designate an occupied territory, and on the other hand, to attract females. During courtship flights, males hang in the air and, carried away by the wind, slide downward in a spiral. This is repeated many times and ends with small chases.

Horned larks build their nest on the ground among dense vegetation. It is built by the female, the male only occasionally provides her with insignificant help.

The nest is located in a shallow recess and is constructed from soft grass, feathers and animal hair. In it, the female lays from 3 to 4 eggs of a grayish or light green color with inconspicuous brown specks.

Incubation lasts 12 to 14 days. The female incubates the clutch, content with the offerings of the male. Both parents feed the chicks, bringing them various insects and their larvae. At the age of about 13 days, they become on the wing and soon move on to independent existence.

Brown-headed cow corpses (Molothrus ater) often lay their eggs in the nests of horned larks. The host bird usually does not notice the change and incubates them. After hatching, the foundlings dominate their half-brothers and, as a rule, throw them out of the nest.


The body length of sexually mature individuals is 16-20 cm. The wingspan is 30-35 cm. The weight is 30-45 g. Females are slightly smaller and lighter than males and are less brightly colored.

There is a wreath of black feathers on the top of the head, and a black mask on the face. It extends from the base of the beak over the eyes to the chest. The chin and forehead are yellowish white. The ends of the "wreath" protrude slightly from the head and give the impression of a horn or ear.

The chest and abdomen are colored in various shades from whitish to cream. The head, neck, wings and back are predominantly light brown.

The beak is conical with a pointed end of a grayish color. The legs and feet are dark gray or black-brown. Three fingers point forward and one finger backward. They all end in dark claws.

The life span of horned larks in the wild reaches 5-7 years.