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Eastern Meadowlark

Sturnella magna

The Eastern and Western Meadowlarks look nearly identical to each other, but their songs are very different. Studies show that even where the ranges of these two species overlap, they battle for territorial rights and do not hybridize. Most of the population of Eastern Meadowlarks do not migrate and in the USA remain on territory from Texas to Florida and north to the Great Lakes and upper New England. Some of these birds will nest in summer as far north as south eastern Canada.

The Eastern Meadowlark has a western cousin (Western Meadowlark), and where their territories overlap, interbreeding occurs very rarely. The songs of the eastern bird (to my ear) are softer and gentler than the western birds, whose calls and songs I’m more familiar with. To the eye they are very similar, but where the darker striped, or checked markers extend over their flanks, the base color of the western bird is a creamy white, while in the eastern bird it is the same yellow as the belly.

Seventeen subspecies of Eastern Meadowlarks have been described. One population, named the Lillian’s Meadowlark resides in west Texas, New Mexico, and eastern Arizona, and isolated from the rest of the population.

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