Tag Archives: crested Lark

Leipziger Lerche or Songbird Pastry

While doing a crossword, I came across this word Leipziger. It is in Germany. Lerche actually means Lark in German language. The hint was the famed Pie which used actual Lark as one of the ingredients. It was a very popular delicacy. 

I was shocked that humans didn’t leave alone even the smaller birds for using them in their food. Man in his initial days was a hunter and hunted in groups the big game. Slowly he discovered that many plants- like grasses contain the seeds like precursors of wheat are edible. This diverted them from hunting towards farming but eating the animal flesh is a part of the food.

From the bird lists of Germany, three types of Larks are found there. These are Crested Lark, skylarks and one another variety but the most abundant is Crested Lark. The name Lark is given to this family of birds because they sing in very sweet voice. Here I am producing a picture of Crested Lark found in our area.

crested lark

The tradition of consuming Larks dates back to Middle Ages. Although it was consumed in France, Italy and Germany, but Leipzig was the foremost. References say that the Larks in this region were most perfect and succulent and needed no butter for cooking. Cookbooks say that these were cooked in many ways like pan fried with diced apples, ginger, peppers and sugar or simmered in beef stock with raisins and beer.

Craze for these innocent birds was such that over 404,000 larks!!! were sold in the year 1720 alone within Leipzig, with over 1 million more being caught in the surrounding area and sent to other German cities and towns or even as far as Spain and Russia

Practice went on till 1876, when the king Albert of Saxony made it illegal to hunt the birds as these were helpful to the farmers because these birds feed on the insects which harm the crops. 

The pastry is still made under this name but without the Larks. Instead other ingredients are used. 

Birds of Similar Flock

Some birds like to live in groups with one another. This may be due to the similar food habits of some different birds. Other reasons may be similar nesting patterns. I have observed that in the river beds which is full of brownish sand and assorted sized pebbles birds like Paddy Field Pipits, Crested Larks and Ashy Crowned Sparrow Larks cohabit. One more reason seems to be that their colours match the sand of the bed creating a perfect camouflage.

One day we found together Ashy crowned Sparrow Larks , crested Larks and pipits forage together in the Ghaggar river bed perhaps they are terrestrial birds. I could take a photo of Juvenile Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark ( in Front) and Paddyfield Pipit in the back in the Ghaggar River passing near Panchkula city of Haryana in India.