The two North American Meadowlarks, the Eastern and Western are so similar in appeareance that even side by side it would be difficult to tell them apart.
Of course if the two were together, the Western species would be slightly paler than the Eastern.
The song of these two birds is the best way to distinquish them from one another.
The Westerns song is louder and more musical, singing five to seven flute like notes. Listen The Easterns voice is clear and high-pitched, singing three to five notes. Listen
They are stocky birds 8 to 10 1/12 inches in length. The outer tail feathers are white, the breast is yellow with a black V. The upperpart is streaked.
These birds usually nest on the ground in grassy fields or meadows. The nest is a domed cup of grass and stems. The female lays 3 to 7 eggs that are white and completly spotted and speckled with brown.
The female incubates the eggs for 13 to 14 days. The young leave the nest about 12 days after hatching. Usually 2 broods are raised each year.
During the breeding season, insects such as spiders, grasshoppers and others are eaten. During the non-breeding season, these birds will eat wild fruits, grain, and wild grass seeds.
These birds have a complex bill musculature that allows them to force the bill open with considerable strength. This allows them to insert the bill into the ground or grass tangle, then opened, prying apart the substrate.
While this happens the eyes rotate forward slightly and the birds can see directly between their jaws into the hole they have created. This technique is reffered to as "gaping".
Gaping allows these birds to retrieve insects that other bird species can't get. Starlings along with other blackbirds also use the gaping technique.
Eastern Meadowlark Video
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