U.S. State Bird of Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon and Wyoming -
Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

The Western Meadowlark is a very melodic bird that lives in open country like grasslands and shrublands. No wonder it is the State Bird of six "Western" states: Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon and Wyoming.

Western Meadowlarks are very similar in appearance to East Meadowlarks, but their songs are very different. But anyone that is familiar with one song will automatically recognize the other as a meadowlark.

  • American Ornighologists Union (AOU) Common Name: Western Meadowlark
  • Family: Icteridae, Blackbirds
  • Scientific name: Sturnella neglecta
  • Length: 9.5" (24 cm)
  • Diet: Insects, few spiders, sowbugs, snails; grass and forb seeds.
  • Voice: Song a rich, low, descending warble sleep loo lidi lidijuvil; begins with well-spaced, clear, short whistles and ends with rapid gurgle. Common call a low, bell-like pluk; blackbird-like but more musical; also a slow, dull rattle vididididididi. Flight call slightly lower than Eastern.
  • Habitat: Grasslands, cultivated fields, pastures, meadows and prairies.
  • Displays: Courtship: male spreads and drags tail, nape feathers erect, bill pointed sown, wings partly open, while softly singing; song-flight on rapidly vibrating wings, hovers slightly above vegetation.
  • Number of broods: 2
  • Nest: On the ground in natural or scraped depression; of coarse grass, lined with finer grass, hair. Domed canopy of grass, bark, forbs interwoven with surrounding vegetation; opening on one side.
  • Eggs: Averages 3-7 white eggs, marked with browns, purples. 1.1" (28 mm).
  • Incubation period: 13-15 days
  • Fledge: 12 days after hatching
  • Longevity Record: 6 Years and 6 months (according to USGS Bird Banding Lab)

Western Meadowlark Singing

Kansas Birds

The Western Meadowlark was adopted as the Kansas State Bird in 1937.

Montana Birds

When asked in 1930 which bird best represented Montana, the state's school children responded overwhelmingly with the meadowlark. Legislators agreed and in the year 1931, the Western Meadowlark was officially named the Montana State Bird.

Nebraska Birds

The Western Meadowlark was designated the Nebraska State Bird by legislative action in 1929 because it was abundant throughout the state and was noted for its joyous song.

North Dakota Birds

The Western Meadowlark has been adopted as the North Dakota State Bird in 1947. (North Dakota Century Code, Chapter: 54-02-06). Since about 95% of native prarie in North Dakota has been converted to agricultural crops, the Western Meadowlark is having a hard time finding suitable habitat and has been added to the State's Concervation Priority list.

Learn More about the Decline of Western Meadowlarks in North Dakota

Oregon Birds

The Western Meadowlark was chosen as the Oregon State Bird in 1927 by Oregon's school children in a poll sponsored by the Oregon Audubon Society. The Western Meadowlark is known for its distinctive and beautiful song. The Western Meadowlark is now listed as a Critically Sensitive Species in the Williamette Valley in Oregon.

Wyoming Birds

The Western Meadowlark was adopted as the Wyoming State Bird on February 5, 1927.

50 State Birds Page

More information about the The Western Meadowlark, its life history, song and identification can be found here.

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