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Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta


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Western Meadowlark
credit: Kevin Cole/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Icteridae, Blackbirds and Orioles view all from this family

Description ADULT Has marbled brown upperparts including wings. Head has buff cheeks, dark stripe behind eye, and dark crown. Pale supercilium is yellow in front of eye and yellow throat is defined below by "V"-shaped black chest band. Underparts are flushed yellow on breast, grading to white on belly and with dark spots on flanks. In winter, black "V" is obscured by pale feather tips. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult.

Dimensions Length: 8 1/2-11" (22-28 cm)

Habitat Common and widespread in grassland and on farmland; resident in center of its range, but northern birds migrate south in fall and winter range extends to Texas.

Observation Tips Easy to see.

Range Florida, California, Rocky Mountains, New England, Great Lakes, Plains, Southeast, Western Canada, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada, Texas, Northwest, Southwest

Voice Song is a short burst of fluty whistles tu'lu Tee te'oo tliu'oo-tu; call is a dull tchuup.

Discussion Very similar to Eastern Meadowlark and also found in similar grassy habitats, perching on fence posts and the like. In areas of overlap, usually found in drier habitats. Specific identification can be a challenge: note differences in voice; Western Meadowlark's fuller yellow throat (yellow extends onto malar stripe while Eastern Meadowlark has a more distinct white malar stripe bordering its yellow throat); and extent of white in the outer tailóin Western Meadowlark outer two feathers are white, third-in having limited white (Eastern Meadowlark has three white outer tail feathers, fourth-in having limited white). To add to the confusion, northern birds are darker than southern ones; given this variation, sexes are similar.