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26

Rufous Songlark

(Cincloramphus mathewsi)
Alternative names: "Rufous-rumped Singing-lark", "Singing Lark*", "Skylark*"
Size: 19 cm (male), 16 cm (female) [averages]
Weight: 29 g (average)

Similar species

SUBSECTIONS:     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Taxonomy, classification

See Rufous Songlark at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Rufous Songlarks were first spotted by us when a couple stayed at our former place, 20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, during the summer of 2004.

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Frontal view of a male Rufous Songlark in a treetop
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2007]

Frontal view of a Rufous Songlark in our garden
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, December 2005]

Near-frontal view of a Rufous Songlark on an old fencepost (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Spring Gully Road, North Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2014]

Near-frontal view of a Rufous Songlark sheltering in a Wilga tree
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2012]

Here a curious Rufous Songlark inspecting the photographer who had stopped his car on a dirt road
[October 2008]

Lateral view of a Rufous Songlark
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2008]

Dorsal view of a Rufous Songlark hiding in the underbrush of open woodland
[Near Barraba, NSW, October 2012]

Near-frontal view of an immature Rufous Songlark
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2013]

Close-up frontal view of the underside of an immature Rufous Songlark
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2013]

Lateral view of an immature Rufous Songlark
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, December 2005]

Lateral view of an immature Rufous Songlark
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2007]

Immature Rufous Songlark, now seen at a different angle
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2007]

Fledgling Rufous Songlark calling to be fed
[Maules Creek, NSW, December 2011]

Its sibling had the same idea
[Maules Creek, NSW, December 2011]

Frontal view of a fledgling Rufous Songlark recovering in a tree after a cat attack
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2014]

Lateral view of a fledgling Rufous Songlark recovering in a tree after a cat attack
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2014]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Feb Eggs: 3 - 4 Incubation period: 11 days Fledging age: ca. 12-13? days

Note that Rufous Songlarks have a very short incubation period.

Nest building: Female Incubation: Female Dependent care: Female

While the male marks his territory, the female takes on the full load of caring for the offspring, from start to finish.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = Nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Grass Height above ground: N/A

Rufous Songlarks are ground-nesting birds.

The nest itself is not shown here, because we would have caused a serious upheaval by entering the area shown in the photos below.

Somewhere under this African Boxthorn or in the wild growth next to it, all of which are located under a eucalypt tree, there is a Rufous Songlark nest; we did not try to find the nest itself
[Narrabri, NSW, October 2013]

Male Rufous Songlark marking its territory, singing right next to the undergrowth with the nest and the female
[Narrabri, NSW, October 2013]

Female Rufous Songlark coming out of the undergrowth to have a quick look at what is going on outside, before vanishing again
[Narrabri, NSW, October 2013]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 23 x 17 mm Colour: Light-brown, with copious dark-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Migratory Elementary unit: Pair

The males are prolific singers, either while perched as shown in a photo below or in flight. The display flight is slow, while chirping with curved back. They move around various conspicuous places to mark the boundaries of their territory.

Rufous Songlark starting its song
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2007]

Here the female Rufous Songlark he is trying to lure; she is sitting lower in the same tree
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2007]

Different male Rufous Songlark issuing its call from a vantage point (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Spring Gully Road, North Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2014]

This is the male Rufous Songlark whose calls were recorded on 2 October 2014
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2014]

Rufous Songlarks are ground-nesting birds. As such they need tall grass and/or messy undergrowth for nesting. In 2009 we slashed our paddock in winter and removed messy undergrowth. Since then we have not seen Rufous Songlarks on our property (although we do leave tall grass standing on parts of the property at a distance of 200 m from the house). This may relate to the fact that we regularly observe feral cats in the area.

Rufous Songlark cocking its tail, in a way very similar to Rufous Bush Robins
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2012]

A Rufous Songlark was spotted by us at Eulah Creek, 20 km East of Narrabri, in August 2008, i.e. at the end of winter, when the nights still brought regular frost. It is not clear whether they had left for the winter (which was mild overall) or had decided to stay, like other normally migratory birds. The day after major rainfall, with associated northerly ahead of the front, the first territorial calls started ringing around the property at the beginning of September 2008. As a contrast, territorial calls of a Rufous Songlark could be heard around our place in the 2010/11 season starting in December.

Call/s

For this species we have recorded the following call/s. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

rufslrk_20141006_5.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact calls (male) MD
rufslrk_20141006_2.mp3 (NW NSW) Territorial song (male display flight) MD
rufslrk_20141006_4.mp3 (NW NSW) Female's response to male's display flight MD
rufslrk_20141006.mp3 (NW NSW) Male chasing female MD
rufslrk_20141002_9.mp3 (NW NSW) Various (incl. display flight) MD
rufslrk_20141002_6.mp3 (NW NSW) Various (incl. display flight) MD
rufslrk_20141002_8.mp3 (NW NSW) Territorial calls (male's display flight) MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.