French name: Cochevis de Thékla
Scientific name: Galerida theklae
This species is very similar to the Crested lark. To distinguish them, the Thekla’s lark has a shorter beak with pectoral stripes that are more distinct than the Crested lark. In its strongholds, identification is simplified by knowing where one is found without the other!
Call and song
The song is very close to that of the Crested lark, but the Thekla’s song is more fluted and with shorter sentences.
Distribution and habitat
If the Crested lark can be found in garrigue habitat as well as in agricultural plain, the Thekla’s lark will prefer more wild scrubland and dry steppes. It requires very open landscape with dry grassland where it will make its nest on the ground. The nest is well camouflaged in the Brachypodium retusum or bunch grass. This species is strictly Mediterranean with populations confined to the Aude and the Pyrénées-Orientales. The population strongholds are very localised in the limestone hills of the coastal Corbières, Villesèque-des-Corbières, Port-la-Nouvelle, Salses and Rivesaltes.
Distribution maps: region and county
Breeding birds Atlas – Languedoc Roussillon (2012-2021) – source: faune-lr.org
Conservation status and population trends
The French population is estimated at 270 to 430 pairs. But numbers are declining across the species’ distribution. For example, in the Corbieres hills, there was a 26% decrease in the number of pairs between 1996 and 2009. With this decline and low numbers, the Thekla’s lark is now considered to be in danger on both the national and regional red lists.
When to see this species in the Languedoc-Roussillon
The Thekla’s lark is visible all year round. Like most sedentary breeders, it is more demonstrative in spring. The graph below shows the average numbers of Thekla’s lark seen in the Languedoc by month.