The Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) is a medium-sized blackbird, 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 grasslands and prairie, also pastures and abandoned fields, across western and central North America to northern Mexico. Where 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. The nest is sometimes destroyed by mowing operations with eggs and young in them.
Western Meadowlark will interbreed with the Eastern Meadowlark where their ranges overlap, though their offspring are infertile.
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 to semi-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 official state bird of Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon and Wyoming.
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