Horned Lark
(Eremophila alpestris)


Picture of bird
© Chuck Kling
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Horned Lark has a global distribution, but in Canada, it occupies a variety of treeless environments, from seaside barrens to mountain peaks, arctic tundra to prairie pastures. Data from the Breeding Bird Survey provides good coverage in the southern portion of its Canadian breeding grounds, while the Christmas Bird Counts monitors the species on its United States wintering ground. Both surveys indicate a large decrease in numbers since about 1970. One of the subspecies in Canada, E. a. strigata, resident on coastal prairies in southern British Columbia, was assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada as Endangered in 2003 (COSEWIC 2003a; reconfirmed in 2018) and listed under the Species at Risk Act in 2005; it may in fact be extirpated from the country. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Endangered2018Horned Lark strigata subspecies
SARA (Canada)Endangered2005Horned Lark strigata subspecies
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Common birds in steep decline2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge DecreaseMediumBelow Acceptable Level
Horned Lark strigata subspeciesLarge DecreaseHighBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada5,000,000 - 50,000,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

Conservation and management

Horned Lark populations very likely increased dramatically in parts of Canada where forests were cleared for agriculture; these populations have been decreasing in recent years as many sites marginal for agricultural purposes are now reverting to forest (Beason 1995). Elsewhere, loss of native grassland habitat has negatively affected populations on both the breeding and wintering grounds, particularly that of E. a. strigata on the south coast of British Columbia (Beason 1995, COSEWIC 2003a). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view the Recovery Strategy, see the SARA Registry.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Great BasinGreat Basin, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other
Northern RockiesNorthern Rockies, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Conservation & Stewardship