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Lark Bunting

Calamospiza melanocorys ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A common sparrow of the Great Plains, the male Lark Bunting is distinctive with its black body and white wings. It is the only sparrow that changes completely out of a bright breeding plumage into a drab winter one.

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Appearance

Sparrows
Sparrows
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Small songbird; medium-sized sparrow.
  • Short, thick, bluish bill.
  • Large white patch in wings.
  • Relatively short tail with white tips to feathers.
  • Breeding male all black with white wings.
  • Female and nonbreeding male grayish brown and heavily striped.

Male Description

Breeding (Alternate) Plumage: Body all black. Large white patch on upper part of wing. Tail black, tipped white.
Nonbreeding (Basic) Plumage: Grayish brown and darkly streaked above. White below with large dark streaks on chest and sides. White patch in wings. Chin black. Black extending to belly feathers, but mostly hidden by white feather edging.

Female Description

Grayish brown and darkly streaked above. White below with large dark streaks on chest and sides. White patch in wings.

Immature Description

Juvenile similar to adult female, but buffier overall.

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Similar Species

  • Male Bobolink also black-and-white, but back is white, not wings.
  • Female Chestnut-collared and McCown's longspurs similar to female Lark Bunting, but are mostly unstreaked on underside and have white at base, not tips of tail feathers.

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