Horned Lark Numbers

While checking a flooded field for shorebirds during the Big May Day I heard a Horned Lark. It then took flight and landed close to the car. Now if I hadn’t kept my eye on the lark I would never have seen it. This got me thinking about Horned Lark numbers.

Horned Lark Numbers

Can you see the Horned Lark

It wasn’t more than twenty feet away. Luckily I picked it up in flight.

Perhaps it’s easier to find in this photo. (Sorry, my car mirror in lower right)

Spoiler: If you’re having a hard time seeing it, the Horned Lark is in the center right of the photo.

Do we really know Horned Lark Numbers?

I have previously stated the main source for species numbers come from either BBS routes or Christmas Bird Counts. I know from my summer BBS routes Horned Larks are hard to count. Unless a flock flies on the road it’s the one or two heard out in the fields. Because as the photos above prove you’ll never see them.

But as we all know in winter large flocks gather along the side of the road after a snowfall. So maybe in this case the Christmas Bird Counts are a truer indicator than BBS routes.

Horned Lark Numbers

JC CBC BBS
2010 562 14
2011 5 19
2012 39 54
2013 1401 5
2014 38 27
2015 5 64

The above numbers compare the Johnson County Christmas Bird Count versus my Shelbyville BBS route. Not the same territories but close enough.

The point is the total number of Horned Lark wouldn’t be known without the Christmas Bird Counts. The 50 year BBS numbers show Horned Larks have had a slight 1.5% decrease. That’s probably correct with the loss of farm land. But with the high numbers seen on Christmas Bird Counts that might not be accurate. Either way I don’t think Horned Larks are currently in danger.

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