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Red Lark Certhilauda burra
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is classified as Vulnerable because it has a small population which is continuing to decline owing to ongoing habitat loss and degradation, primarily through overgrazing.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Mirafra burra Collar and Andrew (1988)

19 cm. Large, chunky lark. Heavily streaked breast, white eye-stripe and dark ear-coverts. Heavy bill. Similar spp. Differs from Dune Lark C. erythrochlamys and Barlow's Lark C. barlowi by rich rufous upperparts and from Karoo Lark C. albescens by heavier streaking, which does not extend onto the flanks, and larger bill.

Distribution and population
Certhilauda burra is confined to the Northern Cape Province, South Africa, where it occurs from east of Steinkopf, east to Aggenys and south to the Kliprand area. From there, it occurs south to Klein Soutpan, where it is found on sand-dunes from east of Verneukpan and Fortuinkolksepan south and east to Brandvlei and isolated dunes in the Brospan area. Two records from south Namibia are regarded as questionable. It mostly follows the distribution of red sand-dunes south of the Orange river, with the majority of the population found in the fossil Koa river valley. Only c.5% of its range contains suitable habitat, and most (75%) has been overgrazed and degraded, leaving an area of occupancy of c.1,000 km2. Although there is no evidence to suggest that the limits of its range have contracted, there is evidence for local population declines.

Population justification
The total population has been estimated at 9,400 individuals, roughly equivalent to 6,300 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be declining in line with the loss and degradation of the species's habitat. The likely rate of decline, however, has not been estimated.

It occurs on dune ridges and eroded dunes, alluvial plains, and even clay-pans with pebbles. It favours areas where large-seeded tussock-grasses are dominant. It requires territories in multi-layered vegetation, with annual large-seeded grasses for food, perennial grasses with plumed awns for nest material and nest-sites, and taller shrubs and trees to provide perches. It feeds on invertebrates, seeds and fruit.

The species has lost 75% of its habitat in the past 100 years. Domestic livestock, chiefly sheep, have caused loss and fragmentation of sensitive dune vegetation. Extensive ranching may have resulted in trampling and grazing which has changed vegetation structure and reduced plant cover, causing erosion and shifting of dunes. All remaining suitable habitat is under continuing grazing pressure from domestic livestock.

Conservation Actions Underway
Important populations are found in private reserves at Black Mountain Mine Nature Reserve (700-900 pairs, including the adjacent Haramoep farm), Mattheus-Gat Conservation Area (200-300 pairs) and Bitterputs Conservation Area (150-250 pairs). None of these areas are protected by the state but all have been recently identified as Important Bird Areas (IBAs) (Barnes 1998).Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to estimate the population size. Monitor population trends. Monitor grazing pressure, especially in the Koa river valley. Establish managed reserves. Offer incentives to private landowners with important dunes in order to limit grazing . Re-establish suitable grass and forb communities to increase populations in some areas. Ensure conservation plans cover the three main habitat zones - the north-western dunes, the south-central alluvial plains and the eastern dunes.

Barnes, K. N. 1998. The Important Bird Areas of southern Africa. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.

Barnes, K. N. 2000. The Eskom Red Data Book of birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Certhilauda burra. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Alaudidae (Larks)
Species name author (Bangs, 1930)
Population size 6300 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 72,200 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change