Shore Lark

Eremophila alpestris (Linnaeus, 1758) SX SHOLA 9780
Family: Passeriformes > Alaudidae

Shore Lark, Chris Knights

As its name suggests, the Shore Lark is found around our shoreline, where it quietly feeds on the seeds of saltmarsh plants washed up along the tidelines.

The Shore Lark is a scarce winter visitor to the UK, occurring mainly on the eastern coasts of England and Scotland. During cold, windswept days this habitat may not be so different from this species' high-Arctic breeding grounds. Shore Larks have distinctive yellow and black facial markings, but their plumage is otherwise mottled brown with a paler underside. Small flocks can be hard to pick out in coastal habitats.

The European breeding population is estimated to be around 7 million pairs. This gives some perspective on its scarcity in the UK, where around 100 birds can arrive in a winter. Like most birds escaping the freezing conditions further north, Shore Lark numbers fluctuate wildly between years, depending on the severity of the weather the birds are escaping.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Shore Lark

  • Breeding
  • Winter


Shore Lark identification is often straightforward.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Shore Lark, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Flight call


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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



Shorelarks are mostly recorded mostly in winter, predominantly in coastal habitats on the east coast of England and in southeast Scotland, where they feed on the tideline and amongst saltmarsh and sand-dune vegetation. Shorelarks have been confirmed to breed in the UK in only two years, most recently in 2003. None were recorded in suitable breeding habitat during 2008–11.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


The winter distribution of Shorelarks in Britain has changed little since the 1981–84 Winter Atlas; a 4% range contraction was recorded. Gains and losses tend to balance out, particularly along the east coast.


Shore Lark is an autumn and winter visitor, typically arriving in October.

Weekly occurence of Shore Lark from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Shore Lark ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Shore Lark, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Uiseag-adharcach
Welsh: Ehedydd Traeth
Catalan: alosa banyuda
Czech: skrivan ouškatý
Danish: Bjerglærke
Dutch: Strandleeuwerik
Estonian: sarviklõoke
Finnish: tunturikiuru
French: Alouette hausse-col
German: Ohrenlerche
Hungarian: havasi fülespacsirta
Icelandic: Fjallalævirki
Irish: Fuiseog Adharcach
Italian: Allodola golagialla
Latvian: ausainais cirulis
Lithuanian: geltongurklis raguotasis vieversys
Norwegian: Fjellerke
Polish: górniczek (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: calhandra-cornuda
Slovak: uškárik vrchovský
Slovenian: uhati škrjanec
Spanish: Alondra cornuda
Swedish: berglärka

Links to more information from

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