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Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna


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Eastern Meadowlark
credit:  Alastair Rae/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Icteridae, Blackbirds and Orioles view all from this family

Description ADULT Has marbled brown upperparts. Head has buff cheeks, dark stripe behind eye, and dark crown. Pale supercilium is yellow in front of eye and yellow throat is bordered by white malar stripe and defined below by "V"-shaped black chest band. Underparts are flushed yellow on breast, grading to white on belly and with dark spots on flanks. In winter, black "V" is obscured by pale feather tips. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult.

Dimensions Length: 9-11" (23-28 cm)

Habitat Common and widespread in grassland; largely resident, but northern birds migrate south in fall.

Observation Tips Easy to see.

Range Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada, Texas, Southwest, Florida, Rocky Mountains, New England, Great Lakes, Plains

Voice Song is a whistled tsee'oo'ee tseeuu; call is a rattle.

Discussion Long-billed grassland bird that often sings from roadside posts. Easily recognized as a meadowlark and recognition as such is straightforward across most of its eastern range where it is the only meadowlark species present. But, specific identification is tricky where range overlaps with Western Meadowlark. Note Eastern's white malar stripe bordering the yellow throat, and the greater extent of white in its outer tail. Also, flank markings tend to look streaky in Eastern, but spotty in Western. Subspecies plumage variation exists across range; Southwestern "Lilian's" (lilianae) is palest and most similar to sympatric Westerns. Sexes are similar.