STREAKED HORNED LARK CONSERVATION
Photo – David Leonard, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Streaked Horned Lark is a ground-dwelling songbird found on wide-open landscapes west of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington. Their natural habitat includes prairies, sandy river islands, and ocean beaches, but many of these habitats have been altered or degraded and no longer support larks. Today, Streaked Horned Larks are limited to airports and farmlands in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, grasslands in the Puget Sound lowlands, dredge spoil islands in the lower Columbia River, and coastal beaches in Washington.
Originally found from western British Columbia south through the Rogue River Valley of Oregon, the lark’s range has shrunk and the population has declined precipitously. It is believed that less than 2,000 individual birds remain. In October 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Streaked Horned Lark as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Implementing conservation actions now could help grow the Streaked Horned Lark population, a crucial step towards de-listing.
To stem this declining trend, Pacific Birds has joined with the American Bird Conservancy, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and the Oregon Farm Bureau in a collaborative lark partnership. The aim is to conserve lark habitat on both private and public lands.
In the Willamette Valley, farmers are key to these conservation efforts, as larks and farms can coexist with management that includes “lark friendly” farming practices. The partnership is working on outreach and incentives to encourage the conservation of lark habitat using voluntary measures on agricultural and other private lands. When the lark was listed as threatened, a special exemption–called a 4(d) rule–was made for agricultural operations, setting the stage for collaborative conservation on working lands.
For more information, contact: Niles Brinton Pacific Birds Conservation Specialist
Lark habitat in Oregon
Photo – Cat Brown, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
DID YOU KNOW?
Those flocks of birds moving between farms during the winter may contain Streaked Horned Larks. Wintering birds rely heavily on seeds, but during the summer nesting season, insects make up much of the lark’s diet.
Click on the maps below to see the lark’s historic and current ranges.