Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)

Western Meadowlark

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Icteridae | [latin] Sturnella neglecta | [UK] Western Meadowlark | [FR] Stournelle de l’Oest | [DE] Wiesenstarling | [ES] Triguera de Occidente | [NL] Geelkaakweidespreeuw


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Xanthocephalus neglecta
Sturnella neglecta NA, MA w

Physical charateristics

In grassy country, a chunky brown bird flushes, showing a conspicuous patch of white on each side of its short wide tail. Severa
l rapid wingbeats alternate with short glides. Should it perch on a post, the glass reveals a bright yellow breast crossed by a black V. Walking, the bird flicks its tail open and shut. Starling shape.

Listen to the sound of Western Meadowlark

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/W/Western Meadowlark.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 36 cm wingspan max.: 44 cm
size min.: 18 cm size max.: 24 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 10 days fledging max.: 12 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


North America, Middle America : West


Grasslands, cultivated fields and pastures, meadows, prairies.
Breeds mostly in natural grasslands, abandoned weedy fields, rangeland, also sometimes on cultivated land. In the Midwest, seems to prefer shorter grass and drier fields than the sites chosen by Eastern Meadowlark. In winter, often in stubble fields and
other farmland.


Male sings to defend nesting territory. One male may have more than one mate. In courtship, male faces female, puffs out chest feathers and points bill straight up to show off black “V,” spreads tail wide, and flicks wings.
Placed on the ground, in areas with dense cover of grass. Nest (built by female) is a domed structure with entrance on side, made of grass stems interwoven with surrounding growth. Usually has narrow trails or “runways” leading to nest through the grass.

Eggs: 3-7, usually about 5. White, heavily spotted with brown and purple, especially at larger end. Incubation is by female, about 13-15 days.
Young: Both parents feed nestlings (but female does more). Young leave the nest after about 12 days, before they are able to fly, and are tended by parents for at least another 2 weeks. 2 broods per year.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects and seeds.
Majority of diet consists of insects, especially in summer, when it eats many beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, ants, true bugs, and others; also spiders, snail
s, sowbugs. Seeds and waste grain make up about one-third of annual diet and are eaten especially in fall and winter.
Behavior: Forages by walking on the ground, taking insects and seeds from the ground and from low plants. Often probes in the soil with its bill. In winter, usually forages in flocks.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Western Meadowlark status Least Concern


Southwestern Canada, through western United States to highlands of central Mexico. Migration:
Migrates relatively late in fall and early in spring. Summer range and numbers may vary in drier parts of West, with numbers of breeding birds dependent on amount of spring rainfall.

Distribution map

Western Meadowlark distribution range map

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