Berthoud, Colorado April 28, 2010
Western Meadowlark – Sturnella neglecta
An abundant and familiar bird of open country across the western two-thirds of the continent, the Western Meadowlark is beloved for its melodic song. It is frequently seen singing atop fenceposts along roadsides in native grassland and agricultural areas.
The nest of the Western Meadowlark usually is partially covered by a grass roof. It may be completely open, however, or it may have a complete roof and an entrance tunnel several feet long.
Although the Western Meadowlark looks nearly identical to the Eastern Meadowlark, the two species hybridize only very rarely. Mixed pairs usually occur only at the edge of the range where few mates are available. Captive breeding experiments found that hybrid meadowlarks were fertile, but produced few eggs that hatched.
When Western and Eastern meadowlarks nest in the same area, the Western Meadowlark male will defend his territory against all male meadowlarks of either species.
A male Western Meadowlark usually has two mates at the same time. The females do all the incubation and brooding, and most of the feeding of the young.
The Western Meadowlark uses a “chase” display during pair formation, with the male chasing the female. The female usually starts the display, and she determines the speed of the chase. If a male has two mates, both females may participate in the display at one time.
Found in open country, including native grasslands, pastures, agricultural fields, roadsides, and desert grassland.
Insects, grain, and weed seeds.
Nest is a partially covered cup of dried grasses or bark, woven into surrounding vegetation on ground. Lined with finer grasses.
Ground Forager – Picks food off of ground and probes beneath soil.
Abundant, but declining throughout range.
Lanyon, W. E. 1994. Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta). In The Birds of North America, No. 104 (A. Poole, and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.
Olympus E-520 – Zuiko Lens 70-300
f/10, 1/640 sec, ISO 200, 300mm, max ap 4,
pattern, no flash, auto