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Last updated on April 25, 2014 at 5:51 EDT

Western Meadowlark

The Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) is a medium-sized blackbird and very similar in appearance to the Eastern Meadowlark.

Adults have yellow underparts with a black “V” on the breast and white flanks with black streaks. The upperparts are mainly brown with black streaks. They have a long pointed bill; the head is striped with light brown and black.

Their breeding habitat is found in grasslands and prairie (as well as pastures and abandoned fields) across western and central North America to northern Mexico. Here their range overlaps with the eastern species, these birds prefer thinner, drier vegetation; the two birds generally do not interbreed but do defend territory against each other. The nest is on the ground, covered with a roof woven from grasses. There may be more than one nesting female in a male’s territory.

These birds are permanent residents throughout much of their range. Northern birds migrate to the southern parts of the range; some birds also move east in the southern United States.

These birds forage on the ground or in low vegetation, sometimes probing with its bill. They mainly eat insects as well as seeds and berries. In winter, they often feed in flocks.

This bird has a flute-like warbled song, unlike the simple whistled call of the Eastern Meadowlark. They were considered to be the same species for some time; the western species, having been overlooked for some time, was given the species name neglecta.

This is the state bird of Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon and Wyoming.

Western Meadowlark