Horned Lark

There is a bird that can be found in agricultural fields the year round in Ohio.  But the best time to see them is in the winter, when there’s much less cover for them to hide in, and the snow often brings them to country roads.  The drawback?  You have to go out in cold snowy weather to see them!

But that’s not a real drawback, since cabin fever makes one restless with being inside too long.  So me and a friend went out one winter’s day looking for some birds in the snowy fields.

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I grew up out towards all of these agricultural backroads in a particular rural county in central Ohio.  What I once visited on my bike as a kid is now seen from the  more comfortable seat of an SUV.  Less exercise, though.

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There’s scattered flocks of birds out on the corn-stubble tundra…

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These birds are Horned Larks, and they love wide-open fields.  You may even spot them on beaches.  They can often be seen with other birds, such as Lapland Longspurs and Snow Buntings.  They have a more lilting flight than sparrows do, and they are larger to boot.

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These birds can be found all over North America.  They eat both seeds and insects, making them fine all-season inhabitants.

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Keep an eye out when you drive on backroads, and you may see them in the road, particularly in snowy weather.

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The ‘horned’ part of the bird can be seen at times as little tufts of pointed feathers rising up from their foreheads.  I don’t think I have a great shot of them in this batch, but the above picture shows a bit of a horn on the left side of the bird’s head.

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These birds aren’t often seen unless you go look out in distant fields for them.  Their numbers are mysteriously declining- habitat-related? but there are still many millions of them out there, so they are a long way from the endangered species list.

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Corn fragments keep them fed in frigid winter weather.  If you have serious snowstorms, look for them at your feeder.  Otherwise, these are farm birds- and handsome ones at that!