Eastern Meadowlark

Credit Tom Hince

Sturnella magna

Status:

  • COSWEIC -Threatened
  • COSSARO – Threatened

Description:

  • Medium-sized bird with a bold black “V” in the middle of its bright yellow breast.
  • Backs are dabbled brown with flecks of yellow, white and black.
  • Juvenile similar to adult but paler overall with greyish flecks on chest instead of black V.
  • Meadowlarks are a member of the blackbird family.
  • Clear, musical whistle “spring of the year” call is easily heard and they prefer to call from an elevated position such as a fence post.

Habits and Reproduction:

  • Males typically have two mates.
  • Females build a domed nest of grass which is woven into surrounding vegetation.  She lays 3-7 white eggs spotted with brown and lavender which incubate in two weeks.
  • Active nests have been found from early May until early August however the majority of meadowlark breeding happens from late May until early July.
  • By November, this species migrates south to the southern United States and into Mexico.

Food:

  • They feed on the ground on insects like grubs, grasshoppers and crickets.

Habitat:

  • Open habitat especially meadows and large fields with long grass.

Threats:

  • Loss of grassland habitat on both breeding and wintering grounds combined with reduced reproductive success due to some farming practices are the main threats to this bird. Eastern Meadowlarks have declined by 73 percent throughout eastern North America since the mid 1960’s.

Conservation Actions:

  • Pastures and hayfields provide important habitat for two threatened grassland bird species: bobolinks and eastern meadowlarks.  Both species will benefit from delaying mowing until mid-July to allow the birds to raise their broods .

Range Map:

View range map here.