Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark, Colorado

Western Meadowlark, Colorado

The Western Meadlowlark, a medium-sized songbird, graces the U.S. from the Mississippi River westward.  They live in prairies and grasslands and are sometimes heard before they are seen.  Either way you find them, by sight or by sound, it is an earthly joy.


They feed on the ground, eating insects and grain seeds; and also nest there.  One of the best tools for identifying any kind of bird is where the bird was seen; that is, its behavior.  Birds that perch in tall trees or soar in updrafts, for example, are identified by these characteristics.  Other birds, like the meadowlark, are readily associated with the ground.


In 1844 John James Audubon reported a meadowlark west of the Mississippi that looked like the familiar Eastern Meadowlark, but sounded different.  Thereafter the meadowlark was the subject of debate for a century.  Today these two birds are identified separately and although there is some overlap in their territories, the two species are basically delineated by the Mississippi River.  In the same family as blackbirds and not at all related to larks, the meadowlark is strictly a New World bird.


A much-loved bird for its vibrant colors and soul-melting song, the Western Meadowlark is the state bird for six states:  Montana, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming.


Sturnella neglecta flocks can often be seen as you drive down quiet back roads surrounded by open, grassy areas.  The motion of the car will sometimes flush the birds, which is a great time to slow down and observe.  If you’re lucky, one may perch on a fence post and pose for you, while a few others darlings are hidden in the grass singing their flutey melodies.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander






36 thoughts on “Western Meadowlark

    • With all the places you have been, Kirt, I am pretty sure you’ve probably encountered the lovely meadowlark. Maybe sometime you’ll see a flash of its yellow breast and you’ll have the direct pleasure of its presence. So very glad you enjoyed the post, I appreciate your comment. 😀

    • Oh yes, I’m a birder with a life list. I keep track with a birding software, and know every bird I have encountered in the world: the first time I saw it and where. I have seen the western meadowlark hundreds of times (mostly in Calif.) and I never tire of it. Many thanks Sue! 😀

  1. I love these birds. They used to nest in the wheat fields near where I lived in Utah. The song is the sweetest! I miss them a whole bunch.

    • It makes sense you would find them in wheat fields, and it makes sense that you would miss them a lot. They’re very special. Thanks so much, Gunta. 😀

  2. Such a beautiful song bird – the Western Meadowlark. The yellow is almost like a neon colour, very cool! Seems like it also has yellow ‘eye lids’ (not sure what it is called for birds..)? Very fashionable:)

  3. What a beautiful bird! I follow another blog and she’s had photos of hummingbirds, which we don’t have here and I’d just love to see and experience them. Larks are another bird. I play the violin and there is a piece called “Larks Ascending” and I’d love to hear larks out in the wild.
    That said, we have some fabulous birds locally such as Rainbow Lorrikeets, Sulfur-Crested cockatoos, gallahs etc. We are very blessed!

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