Monday, 16 February 2015

B.O.T.D. Sky Lark

B.O.T.D. Feb 16, 2015

Sky Lark (Alauda arvensis)

Few birds have inspired more people with their songs than the Sky Lark. In 1820, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote "...That from heaven or near it / Pourest thy full heart / In profuse strains of unpremeditated art." The Sky Lark's continuous warble, delivered high in the air and lasting up to 30 minutes for a completed song, is the longest of any North American bird.

The Sky Lark was introduced to southwestern British Columbia from Great Britain in 1903. The Fraser River delta population failed, but birds on southern Vancouver Island fared better. After a few more birds were released, small numbers became well established, and by the 1960s, their heyday, Sky Larks were a common sight around Victoria and on the Stanch Peninsula to Sidney. By the mid-1990s, there were fewer than 100 birds remaining on Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands in Washington. Loss of breeding and foraging habitat to decreased urbanization and land use changes appears to be the main reason for ongoing declines of the Sky Lark. Birders from around the world visit southern Vancouver Island to add the species to their North American list, but the Sky Lark could be extirpated from Canada in our lifetime.