This is a species of short grassland including fallow agricultural areas. In eastern Africa, it is found in the highlands, normally above 1000 m, but it occurs down to sea level in suitable habitat in the cooler south of its extensive range.
The red-capped lark breeds all year round, but mainly from September to December. The nest is a deep, open cup which is set into the ground and usually situated close to a grass tuft, stone or mound. The nest is lined with fine grass and rootlets.
The red-capped lark forages on bare ground or in very short grass, moving with short runs to feed on seeds and insects. It is sometimes found in flocks which can number hundreds of birds.