Galerida cristata

Crested Lark, Tofslärka, Toplærke

It was the Danish Queen that almost ended the tale. Put an end to 200 year Scandinavian population of Crested Larks.

Quite a suitable way to end it, when you think about it.

But then again, every year of Crested larks is expected to be the last one and, as these pictures show, its not over yet.

Here a Crested Lark ( Galerida cristata ) is standing on the rails of the railway station at fishing hot house Hirtshals, northern Jutland, on Wednesday May 16. 2007. And on the next picture the female bird, one out of the last two known breeding pairs of Scandinavia is lifting up her skirts, doing the best a she-bird can do to attract daddy, who not too far away, is singing his heart out, at the top of the station building itself.

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Everything looks nice, but then….

Things have to look neat during a royal visit, and in Hirtshals, that meant a nest had to go.

And so it happened. Everything was cleaned, a few days prior to the royal visit, and as a consequence one well known, preferred nesting spot, for Galerida cristata, was spoiled, down at the harbor, some sunny day back in June 2003.

I don’t know what they were thinking of in Hirtshals. That could have marked the end of, what is Scandinavia’s last, and Europe’s northern most, breeding Crested Larks, but luckily as these pictures show, at least one pair is still going strong, and nesting near the railway station overlooking the harbor-area and the North Sea itself.

But Crested Larks are going down.

Showing an unbroken decline since the middle of the twenties century, from the species being part of our landscape, both sides of the Great Belt, reduced to something like 300 to 500 pairs in the 1970ties, to now a days, two remaining pairs, one of which is pictured here in Northern Jutland this June 2007.

The Malmö-city-bird of the past.

And the species is on a retreat in Europe as a whole. The last bird out of a small Norwegian population was seen, as far back as in 1972, and for most European countries the story is the same.

In Sweden the last breeding Railway Larks, Järnvägslärkan, as they are called due to the preferred habitat in the suburbs of major cities, industrial areas and railway stations, were seen during the start of the 1990ies. Last bird seen in 2004, if not for one individual Crested Lark, that hit the media this spring (2007), apparently having survived civilization, observed by fans at a parking lot in Lund (southern Sweden)

The parkinglot of Willy’s food store in the city of Lund.

Crested larks are a threatened species for sure, and the way things are going, the mayor of Malmö, in southern Sweden, will soon have to find a new official city-bird to take over after Tofslärkan, (Crested Lark) who, at present, are showing no signs of a revival, hinsidan.

Of coarse the Malmö citizens could go to Hirtshals.

Best regards

Steffen Ortmann / photoeditor