Woodlark

Lullula arborea

About

Secretive woodlarks favour open, dry habitats with short swards and can be seen all year round, but are perhaps most notable in February and March. They are mostly resident, though move to stubbles for the autumn and early winter. Feeding on seeds and insects, woodlark usually nest within a grass tussock or heather bush, often digging a shallow scrape in which to build a nest. Scattered trees and woodland edge trees are used as song or lookout posts.

How to identify

Woodlarks appear almost stripy brown with a buff-white eye stripe and with a spikey crest on their heads. They have an oddly short tail and an almost bouncing flight pattern.

Where to find it

Woodlarks can be found breeding mainly in eastern and southern England heaths such as the New Forest, Surrey/Berkshire heaths, Breckland and some Suffolk heaths. Overwintering individuals are usually found in Hampshire, west Surrey and Devon, and in recent years, some wintering flocks have been found in East Anglia.

Habitats

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Over the past 100 years, populations have fluctuated quite markedly. This is probably linked to changes in climate and habitat availability; heathland has become less commercially viable and has been built on, turned into pasture and conifer plantation, or left unmanaged to become scrub and eventually woodland. However, declines between the 1940s and 1970s have gradually been reversed as a result of clear-felling plantations. As ground-nesting birds, woodlarks are easily frightened away from their nests in spring, leaving eggs or chicks vulnerable to the cold and predators. Ensuring breeding birds are not disturbed and heathland nature reserves are well-managed are just some of the ways The Wildlife Trusts are helping this bird to survive. You can help too: volunteer for The Wildlife Trusts and you could be involved in everything from clearing scrub to raising awareness about nesting birds. Don't forget to keep dogs on leads in areas where ground-nesting birds are breeding.

Species information

Common name
Woodlark
Latin name
Lullula arborea
Category
Birds
Larks, sparrows, wagtails and dunnock
Statistics
Length: 15cm Wingspan: 27-30cm Weight: 24-36g Average Lifespan: Up to 5 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.