The western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) is a brilliant-colored member of a blackbird family. The meadowlark is a vocal bird and it flies in a V-shaped band. It is thought to feed in marshes, grasslands and meadows of the central North America. The bird shows bright yellow breast and it mainly eats insects and seeds.
Western Meadowlark Facts
- The western meadowlark is nearly the size of an American robin. It has long bill but short spiky tail and so as the neck which hardly separates the shoulder from the neck.
- Adult meadowlarks grow 6.3–10.2 in (16 – 26 cm) in length with the wingspan measuring up to 16.1 in (41 cm).
- The mean weight of the meadowlark is about 89–115 g (3.1 – 4.1 oz).
- It has brownish patterned undersides while the breast displays brilliant yellow color. There is a prominent black ‘V’ on the front of its breast. The bird’s breast turns gray during winter.
- Adult birds have long pink legs while the upperparts are all tan and white.
- Eastern meadowlark and the western meadowlark are almost the same in appearance except for the voice that distinguishes between the species.
- It is a national bird of six states including Montana, Oregon, Wyoming, Kansas, North Dakota, and Nebraska.
- Western meadowlarks seem to prefer open habitats such as grasslands and agricultural fields. These become the favorite breeding habitats of meadowlarks especially in spring and summer.
- Meadowlark’s habitats also include marsh edges, prairies, and mountain meadows at an altitude of about 10,000 feet.
- They don’t like to make homes in wooded edges as well as heavy shrubs.
- Western meadowlark birds are quite noisy and it is said that meadowlarks are heard first than seen.
- They will forage alone on the ground. Meadowlarks are busy on land. In winter they may form small foraging flocks.
- During summer or spring season males often sing from high points such as bushes, power lines, and atop fence posts.
- Meadowlark’s bill is very handy as it is inserted into a hole to pick out insects—insects which are out of reach to other birds.
- They fly low with stiff wingbeats and males claim territories during spring season. Males do compete over boundaries by fluttering their wings.
Feeding Ecology & Diet
- Western meadowlarks are likely to consume weed seeds, insects, and grains which they collect from the agricultural fields.
- During winter (or spring) they seem to rely on grains while in fall weed seeds become the essential part of the bird’s diet.
- Meadowlarks also supplement their diet with some insects which they dig beneath the dirt clog. Insects include grasshoppers, beetles, cutworms, crickets, and ants.
- When the food is not easily available western meadowlarks may eat roadkill carcasses.
- The western meadowlark typically nests on the ground and the roof of the nest is made of grass. The female alone builds a nest on a soil which is depressed from the center.
- Sometimes the nest is wide open while at others it may have entrance tunnel that go few feet in length.
- Male is likely to mate with two females at the same time. Both parents incubate the eggs with females do most of the incubation.
- The female uses soft grass and shrubs to build nest. It measures 7 – 8 inches across and a depth averages 2 – 3 inches. The female takes 6 – 8 days to build the complete nest. The cup of the nest has width measuring 4 – 5 inches.
- The clutch size is 5 – 6 white eggs while the female brood 1 – 2 chicks in a season.
- Meadowlark’s eggs measure 1 – 1.3 in (2.5 – 3.3 cm) in length with the width averaging 0.7 – 0.9 in (1.9 – 2.2 cm).
- The incubation period lasts 13 – 16 days.
- The nestling period ranges from 10 – 12 days.
- Chicks are born with their eyes closed and their skin is mostly pink in color.