Wondering About Horned Larks

This is short post to on a couple of things.

1. Even when the weather stinks, the snow is deep, and I can’t do birding by foot without a lot of hassle, there are still birds to be found.  In this case Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, and Snow Buntings along the roads of Johnson County.  Actually hundreds of Horned Larks, a few Lapland Longspurs, and only one Snow Bunting.

The photos aren’t the best since the day was pretty dreary.

A few of the hundreds of Horned Larks I saw on the day. This group flew over to a field and waited for cars to pass. Johnson County 02/22/14
I posted this picture to show that it really isn’t so hard to pick out Lapland Longspurs at a glance. I used to have problems picking them out of a flock of Horned Larks but once I got used to the color difference, not so difficult. Horned Lark center, Lapland Longspur right. Johnson County 02/22/14
An out of focus picture but still one that shows the differences in color patterns of a Lapland Longspur and Horned Lark. Johnson County 02/22/14

Plus some sparrows and friends along the plowed roads of Johnson County Park.

American Tree Sparrow – Note the bi-colored bill. Johnson County Park 02/22/14
White-crowned Sparrow. Compare head pattern with the next photo. Johnson County Park 02/22/14
White-throated Sparrow – compare head pattern to previous White-crowned Sparrow. Johnson County Park 02/22/14
Dark-eyed Junco – Johnson County Park 02/22/14
A Fox Sparrow got in on the action. Johnson County Park 02/22/14
OK, Mr. Robin, I will post a picture of you. He wouldn’t move to let me see the Fox Sparrow. He wanted all the attention. Johnson County Park 02/22/14

2. And I have wondered about the following for some time.

I’m not the guy that tracks up the most hours in the field, especially the past year. But I’ve put my share of hours in the field.  So where are Horned Larks in the summer? Sunday I must have seen 5 or 6 flocks of 150-200 Horned Larks along the road.  In the summer I  hear a few but might go weeks without seeing one. I know they are in the fields but besides one gravel road in Illinois that always had 10-20 I never see many in the summer. Just wondering?

This Horned Lark posed nicely for a for photo. Where will it be hiding in July? Johnson County 02/22/14


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4 Replies to “Wondering About Horned Larks”

  1. My question is have their numbers increased in the past few years? Or did I just not see them. I didn’t see the numbers I see now 5 years ago in Shelby county. I see Horned Larks every day on my way to work now and most days even in summer. They must nest on this short curvy road east of my house. Right now they are on every road I use, even State Road 9. I can remember the first one I saw and it was a big deal because they just weren’t here. Course that was probably 25 years ago.

    1. I’m not sure I can answer our question. I checked H. David Bohlen’s 40 years of birds of Sangamon County Illinois, something I need to blog about, and he shows a decrease but only because of the expansion of the city. Otherwise the population there has been stable. Brock’s Birds of Indiana says the trend is basically flat on the 50 year line. So I’m guessing maybe you are just noticing them more.

      I know I now notice many more birds than before I really got “into” birding. But I think we all notice things we missed before once someone has pointed them out to us.

  2. I’ve just seen a bird I don’t know at all. Red chest like a robin,size of robin. Red around neck,2white spots on black wings,top of head black. Visited my feeder today and yesterday. I live on Oregon Coast,just north of Tillamook.
    Can you tell me what this is… Thank You

    1. Hi Marcia, sorry for the late reply but your comment got thrown in a SPAM folder. Having only birded the Tillamook area one time I can’t be sure what the bird was but from your description a Red-breasted Grosbeak is the only thing that comes to mind. Which would be rare for Oregon. Did you ever get a photo?

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