By Fouad Itani
The Eurasian Skylark is a small passerine bird from the Alaudidae family. It measures 18 cm in length, with a wingspan of 39 cm, and an average weight of 40 g.
Like most larks, the Eurasian Skylark is a brown to sandy grey bird, it has a buff breast with dark streaks, a white belly, and a short foldable crest on the head.
In Lebanon the Eurasian Skylark is a common passage migrant (abundant during autumn migration), a scarce winter visitor, and a rare non-breeding summer visitor. It is a ground-dwelling bird usually found in open farmland and grasslands along the coast and in the Beqaa Valley where it feeds mainly on seeds.
The Eurasian Skylark still faces a number of threats, like farming practices, habitat destruction, the use of pesticides, and hunting.
Even though it’s not listed as a game bird, the Eurasian Skylark remains one of the most hunted birds in the country. This is mainly due to its abundance during the hunting season, the illegal use of calling machines, and to the misconception and confusion created by the Arabic name used by most Lebanese hunters (Matwaa,مطوق) and what this name really stands for in Arabic “the Calandra Lark”, which in fact is the game bird referred to by the Lebanese hunting law.
Hopefully, and with the recent implementation of the hunting law #580/2004, and all the awareness efforts made by the Ministry of Environment, the local NGOs, and the ethical and responsible Hunters, the Eurasian Skylark will soon be protected in Lebanon.