The Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) is a medium-sized sparrow that is found throughout much of North America. It measures about 6.5-7 inches in length and has a wingspan of about 9-10 inches. The Lark Sparrow weighs between 0.9-1.1 ounces, making it slightly larger than many other sparrows in its range.
The Lark Sparrow can be easily identified by its unique facial markings. It has a bold, black and white striped head pattern with a distinctive rusty-brown patch on each cheek. Its back is brown with white stripes and its underparts are whitish-gray with a large black spot on its breast. It also has a long, pointed tail and pinkish legs. The overall effect is a striking bird with a distinctive appearance.
The Lark Sparrow is a migratory bird that spends the breeding season in the western United States and northern Mexico, and then migrates to wintering grounds in the southern United States, Mexico, and Central America. During migration, Lark Sparrows can be found in a variety of habitats including open fields, grasslands, and agricultural areas. In the breeding season, they prefer open grassy areas with scattered shrubs and trees.
During the breeding season, Lark Sparrows feed primarily on insects and other small invertebrates. In the winter, they switch to a diet that includes seeds and grains. Lark Sparrows are ground foragers and can often be seen scratching in the soil with their bills, searching for food.
Despite their relatively widespread distribution, Lark Sparrows have experienced declines in their populations in recent decades. Habitat loss due to agricultural development and urbanization, as well as changes in land-use patterns, have contributed to this decline. Conservation efforts aimed at protecting and restoring grassland habitats may be key to the long-term survival of this species.