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The Woodlark, Cotovia-dos-bosques in Portuguese, Totovía in Spanish, Alouette lulu in French, or Lullula arborea in Latin, is a small lark with brown plumage, a short tail and a vestigial crest. It lives in a wide variety of open woodland and forests across temperate Europe and the Mediterranean. The Woodlark is mainly sedentary, being migratory in the northern and eastern parts of its area of distribution in Europe. Birds from southern Scandinavia, Central Europe, Russia and Turkey migrate to the south and southwest during the winter. Like other larks, it spends much of its time on the ground, where it feeds on seeds and insects, and where it builds its nest, normally hidden under a tuft of grass. Unlike most larks, however, it often perches on the tops of trees and tall bushes.

The song of the Woodlark is of the most melodious of all European birds. It sings during the night or in the morning, normally in undulating flight, and at over 100 metres, or from the top of a tall tree. In Portugal, the Woodlark nests throughout the country, in a wide range of habitats, such as open cork oak forests, areas of scattered undergrowth with trees, tree-covered dunes, olive groves and mixed farmland. It always prefers locations with trees, even on mountains over 1000 metres above sea level. It is not considered a globally endangered species. However, it is included in Annex I of the Birds Directive, due to the fact that it appears to be declining in some European Union countries. In Portugal there are probably between 100,000 and 1,000,000 nesting pairs. In Portugal it is not a game species and it is not endangered.

Text: Domingos Leitão – Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves


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