Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 4,730,000-9,050,000 pairs, which equates to 9,460,000-18,100,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend justification
In Europe, trends between 1998 and 2013 show that populations were stable (EBCC 2015).


This species prefers dry areas with low and sparse vegetation cover, on level or undulating terrain, with sandy or stony soils. In the Mediterranean basin it breeds mostly in fallow lands but also on dry pastures, tobacco fields, dirt tracks and olive groves. It breeds in Europe, leaving its wintering grounds in late January, although arrival on its breeding grounds in the north of its range is often not until April or May. In south-west Europe it lays in May–July, from mid-April in south-east Europe and from early April in north Africa. The nest is built by the female, of grasses, rootlets and similar vegetation, lined with softer material and placed in a shallow scrape on the ground, usually beside a shrub or grass tuft. It often has a small rampart of sticks or stones. Clutch size ranges from two to five eggs. It feeds mainly on invertebrates in the spring, supplementing them with seeds and the green parts of plants in the other seasons and nestlings are fed solely on invertebrates. The species is mostly migratory and departs on a broad front from mid-August through to September and October (de Juana et al. 2012). European populations winter in Africa between 10° and 20°N (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).


Main threats are from agricultural intensification (leading to loss of fallows, increased number of irrigation schemes, increase in surface area covered by crops, etc.) and afforestation of wastelands (de Juana et al. 2012). In Iberia the construction of residential areas may also be a threat (Tucker and Heath 1994).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix I. EU Birds Directive Annex I. A small proportion of the population occurs in Important Bird Areas (IBAs), although much of the population in the Iberian Peninsula is not covered by any conservation measures (Tucker and Heath 1994).

Conservation Actions Proposed
More research on the behaviour and habitat of this species should be undertaken in order to inform future conservation measures (Tucker and Heath 1994, Serrano and Astrain 2005). The maintenance and expansion of dry areas of grasslands and low intensity croplands as well as the reintroduction of temporary areas of fallow land, through agri-environment regulation should be developed. (Tucker and Heath 1994).


Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J. & Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Calandrella brachydactyla. Downloaded from on 23/04/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/04/2021.