This medium-sized bird of prairies and meadowlands has a brown mottled back but a bright yellow breast with a striking black V. The flute-like melodious song can be heard from a great distance as the bird sings from a shrub, tree, or fencepost.

Meadowlarks eat insects and seeds and often forage on the ground. The strong bill allows them to probe the ground and open holes from which insects can be more easily taken. The ground nest is sometimes covered over the top. Males often have two female mates during the breeding season. Populations have been declining since 1966, now about 50% of previous levels, probably due to several factors, including their grassland breeding habitat being lost to development and agriculture, pesticides removing insect populations, and fire suppression leading to loss of grasslands and intrusion of woody species.

The western meadowlark is so well loved that it is the state bird in Montana, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming. This year-round resident in New Mexico can be seen frequenting prairie shrub habitats, such as along secondary roads in the Estancia valley.

Photos taken near N.M. 41 in Moriarty, NM with a Nikon P900 camera.

James Taulman
James Taulman

James Taulman is a retired wildlife ecologist who enjoys exploring New Mexico’s natural areas and observing the state’s diverse wildlife. Find him online at researchgate.net and youtube.com.
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