Western Meadowlark

photo by Matt Sittel

Sturnella neglecta

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Low, explosive “chuck.” Song is variable series of bubbling, flutelike notes; faster at end.

Description:  Sexes similar.  Black V-shaped breast band on yellow underparts; upperparts are brown with dusky edges.  Yellow chin and throat; yellow lower half of cheek; brown striping on head; dark streaking on white sides.  White outer tail feathers are conspicuous in flight.  Best distinguished from Eastern Meadowlark by voice.

Bird Map

Habitat: Tall and mixed-grass prairies, hayfields, wet meadows, and weedy edges of croplands.  Sometimes found in short-grass and sage dominated plains.

Where in Nebraska: Common spring and fall migrant across the state.  Common summer resident almost statewide except in extreme southeastern counties.  Winters most regulary in southern Nebraska.

Fun Facts:

  • Nebraska’s state bird (as well as many other states).
  • Western and Eastern Meadowlarks were considered to be the same species for a long time. The western species, having been overlooked, was given the species name “Sturnella neglecta“.
  • Hybridizes with Eastern Meadowlarks where ranges overlap.

Western Meadowlark - photo by Phil Swanson Western Meadowlark - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)