Asian Short-toed Lark Alaudala cheleensis 亞洲短趾百靈

Category I. Accidental.


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Jun. 2017, Mongolia. Yann Muzika.

14-15 cm. Compared to Eurasian and Oriental Skylarks, paler and smaller with a stubby, short bill. Asian Short-toed Lark has a long primary projection, relatively short tail, short hind claw and an inconspicuous supercilium. The breast and upperparts are distinctly streaked brown. Distinguished from Mongolian Short-toed Lark by prominent primary projection, slightly longer bill, streaked forecrown, less prominent supercilium and more heavily streaked chest (Alström et al. 2023).


The typical call is a rolling ‘chirrrr,’ ‘chirrip,’ ‘chirr-ru’ or ‘chir-ri-ru.’ This differs from Eurasian Skylark in being lower in pitch and lacking the pure notes and a marked fall in pitch at the end.


Occurs from southern Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan east across Central Asia and Mongolia to north and northeast China (Alström et al. 2023). In China it breeds in northwest, north central and northeast areas, and winters along the Yellow River and in Shandong (Liu and Chen 2020).

Five subspecies are recognised by IOC, two of which appear to be candidates for occurrence in HK: A. c. kukunoorensis breeds in northwest, north central China and southern Mongolia, while the nominate form breeds in south central Siberia, northeast Mongolia and northeast China. The latter subspecies is perhaps the most likely to occur.


2014: one on a dry pond bund at Lok Ma Chau MTRC Ecological Enhancement Area on 20 November (Leader 2016).


IUCN: Least Concern. Population trend decreasing.

Alström, P., G. Sundev, and P. F. Donald (2023). Asian Short-toed Lark (Alaudala cheleensis), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Leader, P. J. (2016). Asian Short-toed Lark Alaudala cheleensis at Lok Ma Chau WMA. The first Hong Kong record. Hong Kong Bird Report 2014: 306-308.

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