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First Record of European Skylark on San Juan Island, Washington

James A. Bruce
5 (September-October)
From Field and Study
Online Text:

First Record of European Skylark on San Juan Island, Washington.-On August 15, 1960, while crossing a field about three miles southwest of Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington, my attention was suddenly directed to a brown bird which rose from the grass with an unfamiliar call note and began cliibing away from me in a long arc. The generic cha&teristics of this bird were readily apparent through 8 X binoculars as I had often seen larks of the genus AZuuda 17 years previously in North Africa. The white outer tail feathers, low crest, and relatively short tail peculiar to the European Skylark (Akwda arumsis) were closely observed.

The lark’s flight pattern was characterized by g gradual ascent to a height of 25 or 30 yards followed by a rather steep descent into the grass at a distance of 75 to 100 yards from the starting point. The bird permitted me to approach to within six or seven yards before flushing, and it circulated entirely within a SO-acre tract. The surrounding terrain encompassed several hundred acres of rolling sheep pasture divided by alder hedges and barbed wire fences. It supported a fairly dense growth of dry grass averaging about one foot in height. The predominant birds present were Western Meadowlarks (Sturnella neglecta) and Savannah Sparrows (Passerculu sandwichensis) .

Apparently the seven mile width of Harro Strait has been an effective barrier in confining the European Skylark to Vancouver Island since its successful introduction there. The total distance between Friday Harbor and Saanich Peninsula, Vancouver, is about 16 miles. It is noteworthy that in Europe the Skylark is a wide-ranging species of migratory habit. A careful search of large fields on San Juan Island may reveal a few nesting pairs of this lark.-JAMES A. BRUCE, Wooster, Ohio, December 3, 1960. 

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