Breeding ecology of the pink-billed lark, Spizocorys conirostris, in an agricultural landscape in South Africa
We studied the breeding ecology, parental care and nesting success of the pink-billed lark, Spizocorys conirostris, in an agricultural landscape in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, from October 2008 to October 2010. The results are compared with data in Birdlife South Africa’s Nest Record Card Scheme. Nesting was observed between February and May, with peak activity in April and May. Fifty-three nests were found and the nest structure, dimensions and microhabitat characteristics are described. Egg mass and dimensions showed no regional variation but there was evidence of geographical variation in clutch size. There was no significant difference (P ≥ 0.05) in the rate of food delivery by males and females, but the results suggest there may be inter-sexual differences in the type of food delivered to nestlings. Invertebrates comprised two-thirds of the diet of nestlings while seed made up the remainder. The growth and development of nestlings are described for the first time. The incubation period was 12 days and the nestlings fledged after 10–13 days. Breeding success was very low, averaging 12.8% over the two years of this study.
Key words: breeding ecology, Alaudidae, breeding success, biparental care, nest site
characteristics, parental provisioning.