Research Articles

Breeding ecology of the Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark Eremopterix leucotis in an agroecosystem in the Limpopo province, South Africa

Published in: Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology
Volume 85, issue 1, 2014 , pages: 67–74
DOI: 10.2989/00306525.2014.900829
Author(s): Derek EngelbrechtDepartment of Biodiversity, South Africa, Lucket DikgaleDepartment of Biodiversity, South Africa


We studied the breeding ecology of the Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark Eremopterix leucotis over three years between 2008 and 2010. The breeding season was bimodal with a main peak in laying in autumn (March–April) and another smaller peak in spring (September–October). Nest microhabitat analyses showed they prefer nesting in open areas with lots of bare ground (median 67.5%). Nest entrance directions were biased towards the south (mean vector (µ) = 186.44°). The majority of nests (78.2%) had an apron at the nest entrance. The mean clutch size was 1.88 but there was geographic variation in clutch size between northern and southern races of the species. The mean incubation and nestling periods were 10.33 d (range 10–11 d) and 9.20 d (range 8–10 d), respectively. The results suggest that parental contributions during incubation are almost equal, but females made significantly more food deliveries during the nestling period compared to males. The diet of nestlings comprised mainly of invertebrates (50.2%), seeds (34.4%) and unidentified food items (15.4%). Breeding success was low, averaging 16.1% (range 8.1–20.6%), and the average number of fledged young per pair was 0.36 ± 0.71. Replacement broods were common and we also recorded repeat brooding attempts.

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