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Horned Lark Camouflage

Posted on Feb 9, 2016

This is not exactly the best photo of a Horned Lark ever, but it certainly depicts their unbelievable camouflage. How perfect is this field for a bird with a back like that? Remember that, for the most part, birds – at least those species that possess flight capabilities – do not have to worry about mammals on the ground. This also excludes domestic cats, an introduced creature they are still learning to deal with. Otherwise it is usually very easy to elude mammal predators as a healthy adult bird. How could a red fox or a raccoon sneak up on you in a flock in the middle of an open field? If you were an aerial predator looking down at this scene you would see a lot of the same thing with strands of grass and dirt. This is why birds often freeze as their as first reaction, continuing the illusion until they feel sudden rapid flight is necessary to escape capture. Now this field is covered in snow, and the Snow Buntings have taken the current crown for best line of defense.

Horned Lark Field-5959

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator