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Western Meadowlark

Sturnella neglecta

Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta, photo © by Michael Plagens

Photo taken at Santa Cruz Flats, Pinal Co., Arizona, USA, December 2009. Notice the long, sturdy beak.

In the Sonoran Desert meadowlarks are most likely to be encountered in agricultural fields during the winter months. They also use open marshy areas adjacent to the major rivers or cienegas. It would seem reasonable that meadowlarks observed in the Sonoran Desert would be Western Meadowlark as opposed to the Eastern Meadowlark. A few Eastern Meadowlarks do winter in the southwestern United States and because these two species look nearly identicle it is often best to id them simply as meadowlarks.

Once they sing, however, the beautiful, melodious Western Meadowlark distinguishes itself (The eastern meadowlark's song is a pleasant bubbly sound). Notice the black 'V' across thr bright yellow chest. In flight the white outer tail feathers are conspicuous. Meadowlarks feed on insects and left over grain in farm fields.

Winter Resident - Returns to Northern Arizona, United States and Canada in Summer

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009