Lark Sparrow

The sole member of its genus, the lark sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) is our largest open-country sparrow.  It is found singly or in flocks of up to about 50 members on the prairies and on mesas, along roadsides, and in fallow fields with brushy edges, sagebrush, and open woodlands. They prefer areas with poor or sandy soils.

Lark sparrows breed primarily west of the Mississippi and winter in Mexico. Several resident populations exist in California, southern Oregon and southern Idaho as well as south central United States and north central Mexico.

Unlike many songbirds, the lark sparrow walks, rather than hops, along the ground as it searches for insects and seeds.

A monotypic species (males and females look alike), lark sparrows have a harlequin (varigated) face pattern of white, black and chestnut. Their underparts are whitish with a dark central breast spot. The tail of a lark sparrow has white corners.

This very cooperative lark sparrow was feeding on the top of Lower Table Rocks northeast of Medford OR. Several other lark sparrows were atop the Lower Table Rocks, but they were widespread and feeding independently.

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