Melanocorypha calandra Linnaeus, 1766
Alauda calandra: Klain, 1909: 25
Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Endangered EN [A3, A4 + B1biii], BDA-II, III; International: BeC-II, ESC-Spec 3, BD-I.
General distribution. A Mediterranean species with a breeding area in Southern Europe (the Pyrenees, in Southern France, Italy, the Balkan peninsula), the Ukraine and Southern Russia, Northwestern Africa, Asia Minor and Central Asia.
Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. There are no concrete data about the distribution in the past. In Dobrudzha it was extremely common before 1950 , but in the regions of Burgas and Sofia it was rare, with singular breeding places [2, 3]. At present it breeds in a scattered manner. It is found more often in the mountains Sakar and Derventski Vazvisheniya (hills), in Southern Dobrudzha and the Sandanski-Petrich field. The highest numbers are along the Black Sea coast to the north of the town of Balchik [4, 5], in some dry ravines within Dobrudzha, in the area of the town of Sandanski and in Sakar mountain. In the other regions – Sofia, the Besaparski Vazvisheniya (hills), the Danube valley, along the Southern Black Sea coast, etc. subpopulations in small numbers exist [6, 7, 8] that are strongly vulnerable. The total numbers are estimated at about 12 000 – 16 000 pairs.
Habitats. Steppes. Herbaceous associations in the moderate and the subtropical zones. Pastures. Arable lands.
Biology. The formation of the pairs and the song activity start from the beginning of February. It breeds on the ground. The full clutch is from 3 to 6 eggs that it lays after the middle of April. Along the Black Sea coast there are two clutches yearly . The food consists of insects, and outside the breeding period – more seeds. .
Similar species. None.
Negative factors. Loss of habitats; intensive agriculture and use of chemicals; building within the habitats, especially along the Black Sea coast; building of wind turbines in habitats preferred by the species; illegal shooting and hunting tourism.
Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. Some of the habitats fall within protected territories: Durankulak Protected Locality, Kaliakra Reserve, Yaylite Protected Locality, the Golden Sands Natural Park, Atanasovsko Ezero (lake) Reserve.
Conservation measures needed. Stopping the destruction of the natural steppe and meadow associations along the Black Sea coast. A ban on building in steppe habitats in that part of the country. Creation of new protected territories – of the Besaparski Vazvisheniya (hills), in the major breeding places of the species along the Northern Black Sea coast, in the dry ravines of Dobrudzha and in the area of the town of Sandanski. Strict control on international hunting tourism with respect to the shooting of birds protected according to the Bulgarian legislation. Study of the major sites for concentration during migration and wintering and ensuring their protection.
References. 1. Petrov, Zlatanov, 1955; 2. Nankinov, 1982; 3. Prostov, 1964; 4. Ivanov, 1998; 5. Ivanov et al., 1998; 6. Shurulinkov et al., 2005; 7. Dalakchieva, 2003; 8. Milchev, 1998; 9. Patzold, 1989.
Authors: Petar Shurulinkov, Iliya Vatev, Bozhidar Ivanov, Nikolai Karaivanov