Date: 7/4/17 6:02 pm
From: Joel Geier <joel.geier...>
Subject: [obol] [Fwd: Observations of a Streaked Horned Lark's song flight]
-------- Forwarded Message --------
From: Joel Geier <joel.geier...>
Reply-to: <joel.geier...>
To: MidValley Birds <birding...>, Mid-Valley Nature
Subject: Observations of a Streaked Horned Lark's song flight
Date: Tue, 04 Jul 2017 18:00:33 -0700

Hi all,

This morning I was out on a private agricultural site near Airlie where
I was monitoring "Oregon" Vesper Sparrows, the subspecies endemic to the
Willamette Valley that have been proposed for endangered/threatened
listing under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

However this site also has nesting "Streaked" Horned Larks, another
Willamette Valley endemic subspecies that's already listed as
"threatened" under the ESA (so, the same status as "Northern" Spotted

So when I saw a male lark take purposeful flight about 80 yards away
from me -- not flushed, just heading steeply up into the sky on his own
-- I thought, "Hey, that guy is starting out on a song flight!" And then
I figured, "I gotta watch this."

He flew upward in quick bursts of 3-4 wing pumps that lifted him upward
at nearly a 45-degree angle, followed by a brief rest where he leveled
off, before pumping upward again. It took probably 15 or 20 of these
bursts to get up to where he wanted to be to start his aerial singing

By that time he was way up high. I'm not good at estimating aerial
altitudes especially in landscapes like this one, where there were no
good reference points, but I'd guess at least 200 feet, maybe 300 feet
above the landscape.

Once he got up to where he was ready to sing, he sang while gliding on
stiff wings. After each rendition of his song, he gave a few more wing
pumps to regain altitude, then he'd repeat the whole sequence.

I watched him for about a minute, then figured I'd better get back to
looking for Vesper Sparrows. But I could still hear him singing up there
for a while, probably close to 5 minutes.

That's impressive stamina (especially, speaking as a guy who can't fly
at all, no matter how hard I flap my arms). I hope he succeeded in
impressing whatever female Horned Larks were around, and that they
produce a nest full of Horned Lark babies.

Happy birding,

Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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