|Conservation status||Still widespread and common, but surveys indicate ongoing population declines in recent decades.|
|Family||Blackbirds and Orioles|
|Habitat||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.|
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.
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.
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.
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, snails, sowbugs. Seeds and waste grain make up about one-third of annual diet, and are eaten especially in fall and winter.
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 widely, and flicks wings. Nest: Placed on the ground, in areas with dense cover of grass, in a small hollow or depression in ground. Nest (built by female) is a domed structure with the entrance on the side, made of grass stems interwoven with the surrounding growth. Usually has narrow trails or "runways" leading to nest through the grass.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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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.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsRich flute-like jumble of gurgling notes, usually descending the scale; very different from Eastern Meadowlark's series of simple, plaintive whistles.
Learn more about this sound collection.