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Eastern Meadowlark

Sturnella magna ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: ICTERIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The sweet, lazy whistles of Eastern Meadowlarks waft over summer grasslands and farms in eastern North America. The birds themselves sing from fenceposts and telephone lines or stalk through the grasses, probing the ground for insects with their long, sharp bills. On the ground, their brown-and-black dappled upperparts camouflage the birds among dirt clods and dry grasses. But up on perches, they reveal bright-yellow underparts and a striking black chevron across the chest.

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Songs

The male Eastern Meadowlark’s primary song consists of 3 to 5 (sometimes up to 8) pure and plaintive flutelike whistles all slurred together and gradually dropping in pitch, up to 2 seconds long. Male have a repertoire of songs, singing one song repeatedly for a time and then switching to a different version. They typically sing from an exposed perch, but occasionally sing in flight as well.

Calls

Eastern Meadowlarks give a single, sharp dzert note when humans or other meadowlarks intrude on their territory. Another distinctive sound is a harsh chatter that lasts 1.5 seconds and is given by both males and females. Both sexes have a series of weet calls that they give while in flight.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

During breeding season Eastern Meadowlarks sing often and fairly late in the day, so listen for their pretty, flutelike songs. Also look for bright yellow-breasted males with dashing black V’s across their chest as they show off from posts or poles. In winter, they may be gathered up in flocks of up to 200 meadowlarks foraging in fields for leftover seeds and grains.