Australian Bush Birds
Rufous Songlark  -  Cinclorhamphus mathewsi
Rufous Songlark
Rufous Songlark at Windorah, south-west Queensland.
Rufous Songlark
Rufous Songlarks are frequently seen on top of dead branches singing loudly enough to fill the surrounding countryside with their attractive song. Near Cowra, NSW.
map map The Rufous Songlark - Cinclorhamphus mathewsi - has streaky brown upper parts with mid-brown back, greyish-buff under parts streaked darker on the breast. Rump is reddish-brown. Head brown, eye brown. White eyebrow. Feet are pale-brown. Male and female plumage similar, female smaller (18-19 centimetres and 16-17 centimetres). Females and non-breeding males have an orange brown bill, breeding males have a black bill. In breeding males the inside of the mouth is black and the inside of female's mouths is pinkish; colours may be visible when the bird is singing. Immature birds are coloured like adults but slightly paler and with weaker streaking on the breast.

Rufous Songlark - page 2
Rufous Songlark Rufous Songlark
Left. Orange-brown bill indicating a female or non-breeding male; the overall paler colour may indicate a juvenile bird. Right. Black bill on a breeding male.
Rufous Songlark Rufous Songlark
Two views of the rufous rump giving rise to the common name.
Live in open grassland or grassy open woodland as well as in mulga and on farmland or along roadside reserves. Spends the time foraging alone or in dispersed groups, walking or running among tussocks picking up seeds and insects. Males and females are silent at non-breeding time of year.

Breeding takes place from August to February. Males establish and defend territory with frequent song-flight during the day; these flights begin from vantage perches around the territory, the bird flutters and circles from one perch to another singing non-stop in flight and sporadically while perched.

The nest is a grass cup lined with finer material, built into hollows in the ground near or under grass tussocks and often beside fallen logs. Three or four eggs, pink-white covered with dark red spots and freckles at the larger end, long-oval, about 23 x 17 millimetres. The female alone incubates the eggs and feeds the young; she is as quiet and inconspicuous as the male is noisy and obvious.

Found throughout most of Australia. Migrates south to breed during summer, returning north in autumn.

The Australian Pipit and Brown Songlark are similar in appearance.

Also known as the Rufous Singing Lark.