|Species: Western Meadowlark
The Western Meadowlark is a bird of the open grasslands and meadows
of western North America. Its white tail margins and V-shaped black
bib on its yellow breast make it easily recognizable.
The Western Meadowlark is not a lark but related instead to New
World blackbirds and troupials (Family Emberizidae, subfamily
Icterinae). It was known to Lewis and Clark but not named by them.
J.J. Audubon subsequently gave the bird its Latin name.
The meadowlark range stretches from grassland areas of the western
Canadian provinces and southwestern Ontario south through the
prairies of all western states spreading eastward into the Midwest
states and into Mexico.
General: This is a medium-sized terrestrial songbird with a
long, slender bill, short tail with rather rigid rectrices, and long
legs and toes. Plumage aspect becomes brighter for breeding in
spring-summer due to wearing off of feather veiling in early spring
(and not due to molt). Length 22-28cm. Weight 97g.
Adult Male: The crown is dark with a light median stripe,
white supercilium and bright yellow fore-supercilium. Upperparts
have intricate concealing patterns of buffs, browns and black
streaks and bars. Throat, breast and underparts are bright yellow
with a conspicuous black V-shaped bib on the yellow breast. The
sides and flanks are broadly streaked and spotted with dusky black.
Outer wing and tail feathers are barred with black and brown and the
outer rectrices are partly white and very conspicuous in flight.
Feet are dusky flesh colour. The bill is long and slender.
Adult Female: Sexes show broadly similar aspects in all
plumages, although males can average brighter after feather veiling
wears off. The female is slightly duller, less intense throughout,
and with black pectoral crescent somewhat more restricted.
Juvenile: Similar to adults, but yellow under-parts paler and
dusky streaking on breast instead of black V.
Similar Species: Difficult to distinguish from Eastern
Meadowlark. Yellow throat extends well on to malar region in Western
and it averages paler and grayer above, with more discrete barring
in wings and tail and less white in tail than Eastern Meadowlark.
Differences in songs and calls are the most reliable means of
Behaviour: Flight is similar to that of quail and grouse,
alternating periods of gliding with wings held stiff and periods of
rapid wing beats below the horizontal. White tail margins are
prominent in flight.
Meadowlarks are often seen sitting on fences and fence posts.
Foraging birds walk or run on the ground and tail flicks open and
shut when walking. In the fall and winter Western Meadowlarks
congregate in loose flocks of up to 200, and with Eastern
Meadowlarks where range overlaps. It has a loud, melodious,
distinct, flutelike song and eats insects, grain and seeds.
Habitat: Preference is shown for habitats with good grass and
litter cover: open grassland, savanna, native grasslands, lands
converted from cropland to perennial grassland cover, weedy boarders
of croplands, and roadsides.
The beautiful, loud flutelike song of the Western Meadowlark along
with its abundance and conspicuousness make this one of the most
popular birds of the west. The cup nest is a partially domed
frequently with an entrance tunnel on the side located in a grassy
tussock. They lay 3 to 7 eggs, which are white with heavily dark
Breeding populations are in significant decline in Canada and the
Although the habitat of Colony Farm is ideal for Western
Meadowlark, they are more often seen closer to the interior
of British Columbia. Their low abundance at the banding
station is reflected by capture rates (2010-2012;
standardized as birds captured per 100 net hours) where one
individual was caught in May of 2011.