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Alaudala rufescens

warning Vulnerable
VU (C1,C2b)

Contributed: Avner Rinot, Yoav Perlman, Asaf Mayrose, Lior Kislev, Noam Weiss
Update Time: Jan. 1, 2011, 7:39 a.m.

The Lesser Short-toed Lark is classified as Vulnerable (VU) because of the continued decline in its population size and the sharp flactuations in the number of nesting birds from year to year. Its rate of decline is estimated to exceed 10% over three generations (9 years). In the previous edition of the Red Book (2002), it was classified as Least Concern (LC). The change in its threat category reflects the decline in the population size and range.
VU Current Regional Assessment | LC Previous Regional Assessment | LC Global Assessment

Habitats Desert Plains, Inland Sand Dunes
Presence In Israel Summer, Migrant, Resident
Breeding In Israel Breeder
Migration Types Resident, Nomad
Zoographical Zones Irano-Turanian, Saharo-Arabian
Landscape Types Plains & Valleys, Wide Wadis, Sand Dunes
Vegetation Types Steppe, Herbaceous
Vegetation Densities Low
Nest Locations Ground
Diet Types Herbivore
Foraging Grounds Ground
Body Sizes Small (up to 500g)
Threat Factors Overgrazing, Direct disturbance from human activity, Increased predation from invasive and eruptive species

The Lesser Short-toed Lark is a small, delicate lark, with a pale brown plumage, tending to rufous, and a streaked back and breast. It has a short, thick bill. The male has a hoarse, fluent rattling song, with extensive mimicry of other bird songs. Usually performed while flying high in the air.

A relatively rare resident and summer visitor in the Western Negev, particularly in the Halutsa Sands, Agur Sands and Nitsana area. After rain events, it sometimes nests in other areas in the central and southern Negev. Until the 2000s, it was very common in the Western Negev sands, but in recent years, there has been a significant decline in the number of Lesser Short-toed Larks in these areas, to the point of complete absence in some years.

The Lesser Short-toed Lark inhabits broad wadis and sandy and loess flats with sparse low vegetation.

Its threat factors are not sufficiently understood, but observations on Lesser Short-toed Lark habitats in the Western Negev show them to be disturbed by intensive grazing of livestock, accompanied by dogs, direct disturbance by military and off-road vehicle activity, and the impact of agricultural expansion, including invasive and eruptive species.

No specific conservation measures have been taken for this species to date.

  • פז, ע. 1986. עופות. מתוך אלון, ע. (עורך), החי והצומח של ארץ ישראל. כרך 6. הוצאת משרד הביטחון, ישראל.
  • Perlman, Y., Shochat, E. and Labinger, Z. 2011. Developing Managment plan for important bird areas in southern Israel. second annual report, Nizzana region and Arava Valley.Israeli Ornithological center, SPNI.
  • Shirihai, H., 1996. The Birds of Israel. Academic Press, London.
  • Symes, A. 2013. Species generation lengths. Unpublished, BirdLife International.
  • Species page at Birdlife International
Contributed: Avner Rinot, Yoav Perlman, Asaf Mayrose, Lior Kislev, Noam Weiss

Current Occupancy Map

Current occupancy map by density
Data Missing Sporadic Limited Sites Low Density High Density
0 0 0 0 0

Distribution maps

The maps presented here provide visual information on the distribution of species in Israel from the past and present, and the changes in occupancy and breeding density during the comparison period. For further reading

Relative Abundance 2010-2020

Breeding density values in the current decade as determined from experts' opinion and observations from databases.

Relative Abundance 2010-2020 by density
Data Missing Sporadic Limited Sites Low Density High Density
8 12 12 21 19

Relative Abundance 1980-1990

Density values based primarily on the book The Birds of Israel (Shirihai 1996).

Relative Abundance 1980-1990 by density
Data Missing Sporadic Limited Sites Low Density High Density
5 14 14 17 22

Occupancy 1990-2020

The map shows differences in the species breeding distribution between the 1980's breeding map and the current weighted breeding evaluation. Negative value - species previously bred in the grid and is not presently breeding; positive value - species has not previously bred in the grid and is currently breeding.

Occupancy 1990-2020
Data Missing No Change Occupancy Increase Occupancy Decrease
6 35 1 9

Change in Relative Abundance 1990-2020

The map shows the changes in the relative abundance of a species in each of the distribution grids between the breeding map of the 1980s and the weighted current breeding evaluation. Negative values - decline in abundance; positive values - increase in abundance; zero - no change in abundance.

Change in Relative Abundance 1990-2020
80 to 100 50 20 to 30 No Change 30- to 20- 50- 100- to 80- Data Missing
0 4 2 22 12 14 11 16

Red number
IUCN category
Threat Definition according to the red book
() districts
% of protected sites

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