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The Dupont's Lark may be extinct in Catalonia!

Dupont's Lark in Balchite plains

The last census in Catalonia of the Dupont's Lark, which has been chosen as the bird of the year 2006 by SEO/Birdlife, reveals that this species may no longer be found in the region. Just a single male was heard in Catalonia in 2005, and there is not much hope for a population increase.

The Catalan population of Dupont's Lark has been declining steadily over the past decade, and this year's census may reveal the status of this species to be extinct in Catalonia. Spain is the only European country holding a breeding population of the Dupont's Lark, and it is found in 8 of the 17 regions: Castilla y León, Aragón, Navarra, Castilla La Mancha, Andalucía, Murcia, Valencia, and (so far) Catalonia. The total population of Dupont's Lark in Spain was last estimated in 1999, and was then thought to be of around 4.000 birds (1999). In 1988 the population was estimated to be of around 13.000 birds, although this is now thought to have been an overestimate. This dramatic reduction of individuals, and the constant fragmentation of the remaining habitats and populations, has now placed the Dupont's Lark in the Red Data List, and it is considered an endangered species in Spain.

This species is very restricted in its habitat choice and prefers flat areas covered by low bushes and aromatic plants such as thyme. The Dupont's Lark's tendency to run away from intruders and predators rather than fly has made it difficult to make a reliable estimate of the population size, and the decline of this species may be more marked than discovered so far, also in other areas of its distribution.
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