• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer

Western Meadowlark


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The buoyant, flutelike melody of the Western Meadowlark ringing out across a field can brighten anyone’s day. Meadowlarks are often more easily heard than seen, unless you spot a male singing from a fence post. This colorful member of the blackbird family flashes a vibrant yellow breast crossed by a distinctive, black, V-shaped band. Look and listen for these stout ground feeders in grasslands, meadows, pastures, and along marsh edges throughout the West and Midwest, where flocks strut and feed on seeds and insects.


Male Western Meadowlarks have a complex, two-phrase “primary” song that begins with 1–6 pure whistles and descends to a series of 1–5 gurgling warbles. Males develop a repertoire of up to a dozen songs, and may switch the songs they sing in response to an intruder. When chasing competing males or responsive females, male Western Meadowlarks give a hurried, excited “flight song” of short-spaced whistles and warbles. Although Western Meadowlarks seldom sing more than 10–12 songs, their eastern counterparts exhibit a much larger repertoire of 50–100 song variations.


The Western Meadowlark’s most common call is a low, bell-like pluk or chupp which they use when disturbed and during courtship and territorial displays. Female Western Meadowlarks also give a soft rattle during courtship and egg laying, as well as a low intensity tee-tee-tee when building the nest and laying eggs. For their first few weeks after leaving the nest, young birds give a simple, high-pitched location call, which is replaced by a weet note once the birds are independent. Adults use the weet note when migrating.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Western Meadowlarks may come to backyards if food is offered. Although not seen regularly at feeders, they occasionally visit feeding stations in open habitats. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

Find This Bird

Look for the abundant Western Meadowlark foraging in open grasslands, meadows and fields of low-growing vegetation, or along marshes and road edges with sparse cover. In winter you may see them in mixed flocks with other blackbirds and starlings. During the breeding season, males sing from the tops of fence posts and shrubs, or perch on fences and powerlines.

You Might Also Like

eBird Occurrence Maps, Western Meadowlark



Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. You can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell or give your email address to others.