The Horned Lark is one of the breeding birds that I will miss most since their local habitat was destroyed in our NE Illinois neighborhood. They nested only steps away from our front door, and often posed on top of utility marking stakes. Of the dozens of lark species worldwide, this is the only one that is an established resident of the USA. Skylarks were introduced into British Columbia, Canada, where they successfully reproduced, and they also wander from Asia into Alaska.
Horned Larks are called Shore Larks in Europe. This one struck an arrogant pose.
I would either sit on the front steps or park the car along the curb on one of the streets in the undeveloped grassland, focus my camera on one of the stakes and simply wait for a bird to fly in and perch. Early in the spring, the visitor would commonly be a Horned Lark.
Males hover in courtship flights over the females, often hidden in the grass. They do not receive critical acclaim as songsters, as do the Skylarks, but I loved to hear their high-pitched music in the morning, beginning before sunrise. They also have a distinctive, if subdued flight song. Listen at this link
The coloration of females is less pronounced, and they lack the characteristic feather head tufts of the males, the hallmark of their species.
The "horns" are not always raised, as is the case in this adult male. This and the amount of yellow on the face, throat and upper chest varies geographically, being generally brighter and more extensive in the northeastern USA than here in the plains of Illinois. Northern birds are larger and darker.
Their brown backs make them almost invisible in the grasses. Larks may resemble sparrows, but unlike sparrows, all larks walk rather than hop. This male shows almost no yellow color.