- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Icteridae
Chihuahuan Meadowlarks are easily overlooked birds, with their pale plumage helping them blend into the dry desert grasslands of the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. They come to life in flight, revealing a bold black “V” on a vibrant yellow breast and flashing white outer tail feathers. Males alight on perches to give songs of clear, descending whistles—distinctive songs that, along with genetic differences, helped ornithologists recognize this subspecies of Eastern Meadowlark as a new species in 2022.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for Chihuahuan Meadowlarks in the arid desert grasslands of southeastern Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, and northern Mexico. They overlap broadly with very similar Western Meadowlarks in this area, so be sure to identify all meadowlarks with care. Listen for Chihuahuan Meadowlarks’ distinctive songs and calls—this is the best way to identify this species. And look for a mostly white tail on Chihuahuan Meadowlarks in flight (Western Meadowlarks have much more limited white in the tail).
- Pradero Chihuahuense (Spanish)
- Sturnelle de Lilian (French)
- Cool Facts
- In 2022, the American Ornithological Society split Chihuahuan Meadowlark from Eastern Meadowlark based on genomic data and differences in vocalizations. It turns out that these two species are not even their closest relatives—Eastern Meadowlark is more closely related to Western Meadowlark than it is to Chihuahuan Meadowlark.
- When Chihuahuan Meadowlark was recognized as a full species, it also received a new name— before the split it had long been known as "Lilian’s" Eastern Meadowlark.
- The name Chihuahuan Meadowlark highlights this bird’s connection with one of North America’s largest deserts. The northern population of this species occurs primarily in the Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico, Texas, and the Mexican state of Chihuahua, and is most abundant in the dry grasslands of this region.