Dupont’s lark losing song

A study has found Dupont’s lark (Chersophilus duponti) is losing its singing range because numbers are falling. Spanish biologists have found that when male larks had fewer birds from which to learn new notes or ranges their repertoire decreased. The number of notes a male uses is vital in attracting females.

Dupont’s lark, is only found in Europe in Spain where just 2,000 birds are thought to remain, as their natural habitat has been relentless destroyed by changes in land use, particularly the spread of irrigated dry land so we can all have cheap tomatoes in February, reforestation and above all by the growth of wind farms.

The scientists recorded the singing range and number of notes of 330 male birds, mainly in the Ebro valley region in north-east Spain. Using hidden microphones in places the birds usually inhabited, they taped mating calls. Paola Laiolo, who led the research team, said: “The female birds are attracted by the complexity and range of the male’s song.

“We found that the lack of variation of notes or scales corresponded to the areas where the population of larks was smallest. The birds which lacked tutors – or other male birds to learn from – had the smallest range.” Dupont’s lark has a range of 12 singing sequences or phrases. It is smaller than the skylark and its brown colour makes it hard to spot, so censuses are carried out by counting birds by their songs. The Guardian

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Note: SEO made Dupont’s lark its Bird of the Year for 2006.

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