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Breeding biology of the eastern population of the Short-clawed Lark in South Africa

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Breeding of the poorly-known eastern population of the Short-clawed Lark (Certhilauda chuana) was observed at 22 nests over a two-year period in the Polokwane Game Reserve, South Africa. This study is the first to report territory size, breeding seasonality, the roles of the different sexes in breeding, courtship and copulation behaviour, the incubation period, description of the morphological and plumage development of nestlings, and breeding success for the species. Nest sites and structure were similar to those of the western population. The mean clutch size of 2.27 eggs for the eastern population was significantly smaller than the mean of 2.75 reported for the western population. There was also seasonal variation in clutch size with three-egg clutches restricted to the peak rainy season when invertebrate prey was most abundant. The 14–16-day incubation period is among the longest known for African larks. In contrast with the single-brooded western population, the eastern population had an extended breeding season, laying up to five clutches and rearing up to three broods (seven nestlings) in one season. The post-nestling dependence period was 6–8 weeks. The results not only shed valuable light on the biology of this poorly-known population and species, but also contributed valuable information to our knowledge of the biology of African Alaudidae.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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