Eastern MeadowlarkSturnella magna

adult, breeding
Gerard Bailey/VIREO
adult, nonbreeding
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult, breeding
Gerard Bailey/VIREO
adult, breeding
Brian E. Small/VIREO
Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Meadowlark

Description

9-11" (23-28 cm). Robin-sized. A stocky, brown-streaked bird with white-edged tail; bright yellow throat and breast, black V crossing breast. Western Meadowlark is very similar, but paler above, yellow of throat extends onto cheeks; best distinguished by voice.

Voice

Clear, mellow whistle, see-you, see-yeeeer; also a loud rattling alarm note.

Listen

song #2
song #1
zeet & chatter
interaction calls
song #5
song
zeet & chatter
song #3

Habitat

Meadows, pastures, and prairies; generally in open country during migration.

Range

Breeds from southeastern Canada south throughout eastern United States, west to Nebraska, Texas, and Arizona. Winters in most of breeding range.

Discussion

One of the best-known birds of American farmlands, the Eastern Meadowlark usually delivers its bright song from a conspicuous perch. The Eastern and Western meadowlarks are so similar that at a distance only their songs and calls distinguish them. Moreover, the two may even learn each other's song where their ranges overlap. Meadowlarks are often polygamous; more than one female may be found nesting in the territory of a single male. Because the birds often breed in hay fields, their nests may be destroyed by mowing; unless the season is well advanced, they normally nest again. During migration and winter Eastern Meadowlarks band together in groups of up to a dozen birds and can be found in almost any open grassy area. In flight they keep their wings stiff, typically fluttering them a few times and then sailing.

Nesting

3-7 white eggs, spotted with brown and dull lavender, in a partly domed structure of grass concealed in a depression in a meadow.

Similar Species

adult male

Dickcissel

6" (15 cm). Male like miniature meadowlark (yellow breast with black V), but has heavy bill and chestnut wing patch.

adult male

Bobolink

6-8" (15-20 cm). Breeding male largely black, with white rump and back, dull yellow nape. Female and winter male rich buff-yellow, streaked on back and crown. Short, finch-like bill.

adult male

Scott's Oriole

7 1/2-8 1/4" (19-21 cm). Male has black head, mantle, throat, and central breast area; bright lemon-yellow underparts, rump, and outer tail feathers.

adult, breeding

Western Meadowlark

8 1/2-11" (22-28 cm). Robin-sized. Streaked brown above, bright yellow below, with a bold black V on breast.

Vireo

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