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North America is home to many handsome sparrows, but Lark Buntings are among the most striking: breeding males are velvety black with snow-white wing coverts and fine white edges to the innermost flight feathers (the tertials). Females, immatures, and nonbreeding males are sandy brown but also have white in the wing, most apparent when the birds are flying. In their preferred grassland habitats, they feed among other sparrows or with quail, often near road edges and often in flocks.More ID Info
Lark Buntings breed in beautiful, windswept habitats such as the grasslands and shrubsteppe of the Great Plains, where they are most numerous in large expanses of native grasslands with sagebrush. Watch and listen for breeding males as they deliver their flight song, rising up and then gliding down to earth as they sing. In migration and winter, similar habitats are home to roving flocks. Slowly driving through appropriate habitat, watching and listening, is a good way to find this species.
Few backyards have enough open area to attract Lark Buntings regularly, but migrants do occasionally appear in backyards along with other sparrows. Within the species’ range, a water feature, a brush pile, an open sandy area with some native grasses, and offerings of various seeds on the ground might attract a Lark Bunting during migration.