Friday, 24 February 2017

It's a shore lark, Jim, but not as we know it

Another surprise - a skylark on the beach.  This bird ran out of the dunes onto the sand, probably attracted by the seed put down for the real shore larks.

You can see it has a beak deformity with elongation and downcurving of the upper mandible.  It's bit unsightly but is unlikely to interfere with feeding and preening.

I hadn't realised what enormously long rear toes skylarks have.  Of course they are normally seen in the air or standing in grass when you can't see their toes.

Because of its strange upper mandible and the way it ran around the beach (and its crest and colouration) it reminded me a bit of a roadrunner!
By Jessie Eastland (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. The road runner is lateral thinking! But yes, very definitely! Convergent evolution? I think the skylark we saw had a normal bill, but we could easily have missed that in the field. Neither had I noticed the rear claw. Did you notice those features on the photos or while you were there?

    1. I could see the beak problem while I was watching Phil but didn't notice the feet until I saw the photos. I sent a picture to the BTO but their survey of beak abnormalities is only for garden birds.