Streaked Horned Lark Conspecific Attraction Feasibility Study: Progress Report, January – December 2012

We aim to test the feasibility of using artificial conspecific attraction to lure streaked horned larks from occupied sites that are either threatened with impending development or threatened with disturbance or mortality to nearby sites. The goal of this feasibility experiment is to determine if streaked horned larks respond to conspecific cues by occupying treatment sites. Should conspecific attraction prove to be a successful method for attracting individual streaked horned larks to unoccupied sites, conservationists will have the tool available to apply at a larger landscape. This relocation feasibility study is ultimately aimed at benefitting larks by defining a method to ensure larks occupy protected or managed sites, thus reducing proximate causes of decline (such as human-related disturbance) and increasing adult survival.

A variety of habitat management techniques were used to achieve lark habitat conditions including application of broad-spectrum herbicide, disking, raking, harrowing, and prescribed fire. Lark decoys and playbacks of lark calls were used to attract larks to test plots. The first year of the project provided anecdotal evidence that larks may respond to playback and decoy treatments. However, this finding is compromised because larks were detected in our control plot. We are still unsure if larks are responding to the playback/decoy treatment or are responding only to the habitat treatments.