Meadowlarks

meadowlark

The Meadowlark is not a Lark but in the family of New World Blackbirds.

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.

Western Meadowlark Call

The Easterns voice is clear and high-pitched, singing three to five notes.

Eastern Meadowlark Call

Description

A rather stocky bird measuring 8 to 10 1/12 inches in length. The outer tail feathers are white, the breast is yellow with the familiar black V. The upperpart is streaked.

Nesting Habits

Males stake out and defend territories from other males for a few weeks before the females arrive on the chosen territory. Males may have 2 females concurrently.

These birds usually nest on the ground in grassy fields or meadows. The nest is a domed cup of grass and stems and well hidden. The female lays 3 to 7 eggs that have white base with completly spotted and speckled brown on top of base color.

The female incubates the eggs for 13 to 14 days. The young leave the nest about 12 days after hatching. Young fledge before they can fly. The young, instead of flying away when predators are around will duck and sit still.

Usually 2 broods are raised each year.

Feeding Habits

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.

Feeds entirely on the ground sometimes probing beneath the surface to find insects.

Interesting Notes

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, opening their bill, they pry apart the substrate which allows them to get insect beneath the ground.

When the birds bill opens the ground, the birds eyes rotate forward slightly allowing them to see directly between their jaws. This technique is referred to as "gaping".

Gaping allows these birds to retrieve insects that other bird species can't get. Starlings, along with other blackbirds use the gaping technique to find food also.

 

Eastern Meadowlark Singing

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