Western meadowlark

Sturnella neglecta

TAXONOMY

Sturnella neglecta Audubon, 1844, Old Fort Union, North Dakota. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Sturnelle de l'ouest; German: Wiesenstarling; Spanish: Triguera de Occidente, Pradero Occidental.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

8.5-9.5 in (21.5-24 cm); female 3.2 oz (89 g), male 4 oz (115 g). Sexes alike in color. Throat and underparts bright yellow, with a black V on the breast; yellow stripe over the eye; back, wings, and tail mottled with brown; outermost tail feathers white.

DISTRIBUTION

Breeds from central British Columbia and Alberta east to southern Ontario, and south through the Great Plains to cen

tral Mexico and northern Baja California. Winters from southern British Columbia and the central Plains to central Mexico and Baja California.

HABITAT

Grasslands, pasture, savanna, and cultivated fields.

BEHAVIOR

Territorial during the breeding season. Males defend a territory with songs, fights, and chases. Flight songs are common. In winter, they are found in small groups.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Forage almost entirely on ground, gathering grain, seed, and insects. Feeds mostly on insects during the summer, grain in winter and early spring, and weed seeds in the fall.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Males often are simultaneously mated to two or more females. Females build a domed nest that is placed on the ground. Three to 7, most commonly 5 eggs are laid late April-early August. Incubation 13-14 days; fledging at about 10-12 days. Single brooded, but females renest if their first effort was unsuccessful.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Widespread and common, but numbers declining in many areas. Agricultural practices affect breeding through habitat degradation, destruction of nests by equipment and trampling of nests by livestock.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Western meadowlarks destroy sprouting grain by drilling beside the new shoots and removing the kernels. However, they eat large numbers of insects that can damage crops. ♦

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Responses

  • GAETANA MAZZANTI
    What are the physical characteristics of a western meadowlark?
    6 months ago

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