A. and A. S. Love. 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List. You may see males competing over territorial boundaries perform a “jump flight,” springing straight up into the air several feet and fluttering their wings over their back with their legs hanging limp below. Every bird has a story. Some of the different ecosystems that they live in include grasslands, prairies, steppe, and other open areas. Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta), version 2.0. Although not seen regularly at feeders, they occasionally visit feeding stations in open habitats. Longevity records of North American birds. Although some nests are simple grass-lined bowls, Western Meadowlarks often use the vegetation around the nest cup as an anchor to create a hoodlike, waterproof dome over the nest by weaving together grass and shrub stems. The breeding habitats of western meadowlarks are grasslands, prairies, pastures, and abandoned fields, all of which may be found across western and central North America, as far south as northern Mexico. As they forage, meadowlarks use a feeding behavior called “gaping”—inserting their bill in the soil or other substrate, and prying it open to access seeds and insects that many bird species can’t reach. Male Western Meadowlarks can spend up to a month establishing and defending a breeding territory before females arrive. When finished the nest is 7–8 inches across, with a cup that is 4–5 inches across and 2–3 inches deep. As the parents move back and forth from the nest they create short “runways” into surrounding grasslands. Flocks of the stout-bodied Western Meadowlark forage along the ground in open fields, probing the soil for insects, grain and weed seeds. Version 2.07.2017. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA. The open plains of the western two-thirds of North Dakota are home to the western meadowlark, and they’re common to see – … Successful males typically mate with two females during the breeding season, bringing food to the nest once the chicks are hatched and noisily chasing intruders away. Primary Habitat: Grassland with few or no trees. The maximum lifespan of a meadowlark in captivity is 10 years. Sauer, J. R., D. K. Niven, J. E. Hines, D. J. Ziolkowski Jr., K. L. Pardieck, J. E. Fallon, and W. A. (2014). Their favorite habitats have bushes, shrubs, and solitary trees … Lutmerding, J. It can take 6–8 days for the female to build the season’s first nest. A meadowlark's nest measures 7-8 inches across. They show a distinctly seasonal dietary pattern, foraging for grain during winter and early spring, and for weed seeds in the fall. In late spring and summer they probe the soil and poke beneath dirt clods and manure piles seeking beetles, ants, cutworms, grasshoppers, and crickets. (2008). Diet. Although they do eat grain, Western Meadowlarks help limit crop-damaging insects. Habitat The western meadowlark lives in meadows, plains, prairies and other open grasslands. Perches such as fence posts are used extensively. Western Meadowlarks are extremely sensitive to humans when nesting and will abandon a nest if they are disturbed while incubating their eggs.Back to top, Although Western Meadowlarks are numerous, their breeding populations declined over 1% per year between 1966 and 2015, resulting in a cumulative decline of 48%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.
Losses are due to their disappearing grassland habitat. (2019). Western Meadowlarks are abundant and widespread, but breeding populations have declined slightly throughout their range in recent years, a trend seen in Washington in both the winter and breeding seasons. The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. It feeds mostly on bugs, but will also feed on seeds and berries.
Avoid very sparse grassland or tall cover. Predators include skunks, foxes, hawks, coyotes, raccoons, and domestic cats and dogs. Other factors affecting Western Meadowlark populations may include pesticide uses, habitat degradation due to invasive plant species, and fire suppression that alters native grasslands. The western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) is a medium-sized icterid bird, about 8.5 in (22 cm) in length. In winter they forage for seeds on nearly bare ground, in contrast to the Eastern Meadowlark, which tends to feed in more vegetated areas.Back to top The western meadowlark is a rare breeding species in the north Willamette Valley, uncommon in the central and southern Valley, and locally common in the southeastern part of the Valley between Brownsville and Coburg and around Fern Ridge (Altman 2003). Simon and Schuster Inc., New York, USA. In regions where their range overlaps with the eastern species, these birds prefer thinner, drier vegetation; the two type of birds generally do not interbreed but do defend territory against one another. Animals Reference. Photograph by Animals Animals/Nat Geo Image Collection. (Browse free accounts on the home page.). Further research is needed to determine how different management practices in both native and planted grasslands affect both nesting success and adult survival of Western Meadowlarks.Back to top. The species rates a 10 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List. Troupials and Allies(Order: Passeriformes, Family:Icteridae). Western Meadowlark. Reason for Designation : Although still fairly common in the western 2/3 of North Dakota, the Western Meadowlark is much less common in the eastern 1/3 of the state compared to historical records. Western Meadowlark: French: Sturnelle de l'Ouest: German: Wiesenstärling: ... habitat, diet, sounds, behavior, breeding, current population status, and conservation. She seeks out a small dip or depression such as a cow footprint, often shielded by dense vegetation that can make the nest difficult to see.
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