Female Horned Lark
Great Horned Owls and Horned Larks are species of birds that have ear tufts that I photograph regularly here in Utah. The female Horned Larks “horns” are not usually visible. This female was photographed near the Stansbury Mountains in Tooele County, Utah.
Male Horned Lark
The “horns” of male Horned Larks are though and because the “horns” are a dark color they stand out more. This male was photographed near the Stansbury Mountains in Tooele County, Utah on a different day than the female above.
Female Great Horned Owl
The ear tufts of male and female Great Horned Owls are clearly visible and the size of the owls is how to determine gender. This female is larger than male Great Horned Owls. She was photographed on Antelope Island State Park in Davis County, Utah as she rested in a Tamarisk.
Male Great Horned Owl
This male was photographed on Antelope Island State Park in Davis County, Utah resting in the same Tamarisk on a different day than the female was photographed. The Tamarisk are an invasive species and have since been chopped down, I think it is a shame that the Tamarisks were not girdled which would have killed them but still left the dead Tamarisk for Owls and other birds of prey to use as perches.
It’s spring, isn’t it? How come there is snow on the ground this morning??? Springtime in Utah is fickle I tell you!
The merry lark he soars on high, No worldly thought o’ertakes him. He sings aloud to the clear blue sky, And the daylight that awakes him. -Hartley Coleridge
Male Horned Lark displaying
Hartley Coleridge lived in England from 1796 to 1849 and I’m certain he wasn’t writing about the Larks we have in North America but I thought it was a suitable quote for a post on larks. The only native true lark that lives and breeds in North America is the Horned Lark. The male above was photographed in Tooele County, Utah a few days ago as he displayed on top of a rock. I didn’t see a female nearby but perhaps he did.
Female Lark Bunting
Another bird with “lark” in its name is the Lark Bunting which is actually in the sparrow family. I photographed this female (please correct me if I am wrong in case this is a non-breeding male) at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Montana in June of 2011. So far the only opportunity I have had to photograph this species is the day I took this image.
The Lark Sparrow earns its name by singing like a lark and I am expecting their return to Utah any day now. I love that Harlequin pattern on their faces. This Lark Sparrow was photographed last May on Antelope Island State Park.
Western Meadowlarks aren’t larks or sparrows, they are Icterids but they sing like a lark too. This one was photographed yesterday on Antelope Island State Park. Right now they are singing on territory and they don’t seem able to stop them selves from singing even when they are hunting or eating food.
There is a small breeding population of Sky Larks that were introduced near Vancouver that originated from Britain, Sky Larks that are seen elsewhere are likely vagrants from Asia.
Fluffed up female Horned Lark – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
I photograph tons of male Horned Larks but don’t have that many images of female Horned Larks, I was happy to find this beautiful female dancing and singing on a boulder in early morning light yesterday in Tooele County, Utah.
Calling Horned Lark female- Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
There was a male nearby who was singing too and maybe her dancing around on top of the boulder was part of their courtship. Females have paler faces and heads than males and their “horns” are nearly invisible.
Singing female Horned lark in Tooele County- Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
She might not have the flash the males have but she really is a beauty. The horned Larks are singing everywhere lately and it is always wonderful to hear them and get close enough for photos.
Female Horned Lark singing- Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
You can see green in the background because new grasses are springing up since the weather has gotten warmer. It felt wonderful to have the warmth of the sun on me and still see snow on the top of the Stansbury Mountain Range.
Moon set over the Stansbury Mountains- Nikon D300, f11, 1/500, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
After photographing the female Horned Lark we drove up the canyon and stopped to photograph the moon setting over the Stansbury Mountains. I was zoomed to 400mm plus the 1.4x TC was attached which is why the moon looks so large.
Horned Larks, watching the moon set, yes, it was a great morning.
Horned Lark in early spring – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/250, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
Spring is springing up all over, I can see grasses turning green, the ice is melting off of the lakes and ponds and the snow is only thick in the high country. I photographed this male Horned Lark just two days ago and I’m tickled that I can see new growth of grasses in the frame.
Horned Lark fluffing in early morning light - Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/400, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
The early morning light lit the bird, tiny grasses and the ground with a warm glow. I was bare handed and my fingers weren’t freezing! What a change for just over a week ago.
Horned Lark male - Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/320, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
I saw flies, tiny moths and even a mosquito the day I photographed this Horned Lark. I’m not exactly looking forward to all of the bugs; I dread the start of the biting gnat season, but I am happy to feel the warmth of the sun and to watch as the hillsides and plains turn green. It all happens so quickly.
More Horned Lark images
Male Horned Lark on a snow mound – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 500, +0.3, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
There was sun shine yesterday.
Horned Lark on a mound of snow - Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 500, +0.3, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
We headed north and found birds too!
Horned Lark on a snow mound - Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 500, +0.3, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
I spotted a flock of Horned Larks, some were foraging on the road and a few were perched on mounds of snow that someone had plowed. It seemed like the ones on the snow were just enjoying the sunshine. I know I was!
These images were taken in Box Elder County, Utah. Had a wonderful time there yesterday.
More Horned Lark images