From Egg to Fluff Ball: The Journey of a Streaked Horned Lark

A young streaked horned lark fledgling found not far from the nest.

It’s been three months and it’s safe to say my internship has been a blast. I have learned so much, met some great people, and participated in multiple threatened and endangered species surveys. I was always interested in field work and this experience has solidified my desire to work in the outdoors. Getting to be in the field everyday has definitely been one of my favorite parts of the internship. On the other hand, waking up everyday at 5am has been my least favorite, but the peaceful sunrises make up for it. However, my absolute favorite part of the past few months is getting to watch eggs hatch, become cute little fluff balls, and see them fledge (leave the nest).

Finding streaked horned lark nests can be very challenging so getting to see them progress from nest building to incubation to fledging is a great reward for all the hard work I put in. Larks are ground nesters so when doing nest checks I often find empty nests with eggshells or other signs of depredation. This is particularly common early in the season when vegetation is short and nests are easily spotted by predators. As the season progresses I am beginning to see these nests advance further and eventually be successful with fledglings. As I monitor them it amazes me how fast these kiddos go from no feathers to mobile trouble makers in just 9 days. Even though they leave the nest at around 9 days old these little guys are practically little lumps on the ground for another few weeks before they are able to fly. Lets just say I tip toe around the fields all day to avoid stepping on these little guys wherever they may be. Being able to witness this threatened species produce successful nests and fight the odds makes all the long hours and early mornings meaningful. 

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