California Department of Fish and Game's "Project WILD" photo taken by Tupper Ansel Blake.
| This bird's black "V" and yellow
underparts are easy to see and its trilling flute-like song is joyous to
hear. The meadowlark stands eight to nine inches high and perches on tall
shrubs, fence posts or power lines. Found in grassy open areas, the meadowlark
announces its spring arrival with loud cheerful melodious notes to define
its nesting territory.
The male noisily protests intruders and chases them from nests built on the ground in grassy areas. The dome-shaped nest is completely hidden in tall grass with a concealed runway. A brood of 5 or 6 young may be raised in early spring. By June the pair may nest again and raise a second brood. This "double clutching" provides a greater chance of some surviving many predators that include skunks, raccoons, weasels, and hawks.
Meadowlarks feed on caterpillars, grasshoppers and cutworms, insects capable of great damage to food crops.
Montana, Oregon, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, and North Dakota proclaimed the western meadowlark as their official bird, an indication of its widespread popularity. It is found in northern, central, and western United States and Canada. The western meadowlark prefers dry habitat and is generally paler and grayer than the eastern species. There is a distinct difference in song but hybrids occurring in overlapping zones of winter range make identification difficult. The range of the western meadowlark is expanding in the northeast.
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