Insights into the diet and feeding behaviour of Red-capped Lark Calandrella cinerea (Aves: Passeriformes: Alaudidae)

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Mary Mwangi
Nathan Gichuki
Robert Chira
Peter Njoroge


Anthropogenic activities have continued to threaten critical habitats of many tropical birds.  Few studies, however, have established the habitat requirements, diet and foraging strategies of the threatened species to guide conservation efforts.  The Red-capped Lark Calandrella cinerea, which inhabits tropical grasslands in Africa is highly threatened by habitat loss and anthropogenic activities such as burning for pasture regeneration and overgrazing by livestock.  Many aspects of the feeding behaviour of this threatened tropical lark are still unknown.  We studied the diet and feeding behaviour of the adult Red-capped Lark in its open grassland habitat at Kedong, Naivasha, Kenya from 04 March 2016 to 12 August 2016.  Findings revealed that birds predominantly consumed animal nutrients that included insect larvae/caterpillars, grasshoppers, moths/butterflies, ants, and beetles.  This was supplemented with plant nutrients (grass seeds) from two grass species, Eragrostis tenuifolia and Harpachne schimperi.  Picking and gulping were the most employed food capture and handling techniques respectively.  In relation to foraging substrates, grass substrate was most selected for food capture as compared to large mammal dung and soil mounds.  Given that tropical grasslands are becoming increasingly threatened biomes, the findings are critical in guiding the management of grassland habitats of birds to ensure their protection from negative impacts as well as deepen understanding on how they adapt to environmental changes.

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How to Cite
Mwangi, M., Gichuki, N., Chira, R. and Njoroge, P. 2019. Insights into the diet and feeding behaviour of Red-capped Lark Calandrella cinerea (Aves: Passeriformes: Alaudidae). Journal of Threatened Taxa. 11, 6 (Apr. 2019), 13727–13733. DOI:
Author Biographies

Mary Mwangi, African Conservation Centre (ACC), P.O. Box 15289-00509, Nairobi, Kenya.

Research Department, Research Assistant


Mary Njeri Mwangi

Robert Chira, School of Biological Sciences, University of Nairobi, P.O. Box 30197, GPO, Nairobi, Kenya.


Robert Mutugi Chira