Woodlark

©Stefan Johansson

Woodlark

Scientific name: Lullula arborea
The secretive Woodlark can be hard to spot. It nests on the ground on our southern heathlands and uses scattered trees and woodland edges for lookout posts.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 15cm
Wingspan: 27-30cm
Weight: 30g
Average lifespan: 3 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

January to December

About

The secretive Woodlark favours open, dry habitats with short grasses. It can be seen all year-round, but is most notable in February and March. Mostly, it is a resident bird, feeding on seeds and insects, but does move to farmland stubbles for the autumn and early winter. Woodlark usually nest within a grassy tussock or heather bush, often digging a shallow scrape. Scattered trees and woodland edges are used as song or lookout posts.

How to identify

The Woodlark is stripy brown, with a buff-white eyestripe and a spikey crest on its head. It has an oddly short tail and a bouncing flight pattern. The similar Skylark is larger, with a longer tail, and prefers farmland and grassland habitats.

Distribution

Breeds in Eastern and Southern England, including in the New Forest and Breckland. Overwinters in the south and south west of the country.

Did you know?

There are more than 3,000 breeding pairs of Woodlark in the UK. Some of our breeding birds spend the winter on the continent, however.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts are working to restore and protect our heathlands by ensuring breeding birds are not disturbed, promoting good management, clearing encroaching scrub and implementing beneficial grazing regimes. This work is vital if these habitats are to survive; you can help by supporting your local Wildlife Trust and becoming a member or volunteer. Don't forget to keep dogs on leads in areas where ground-nesting birds are breeding.