Western Meadowlark

Sturnella neglecta 

Found pastures and meadows
Yellow breast with black v-shaped band
Often seen singing on fence posts

Size & Shape

The Western Meadowlark is the size of a robin but chunkier and shorter-tailed, with a flat head, long, slender bill, and a round-shouldered posture that nearly conceals its neck. The wings are rounded and short for the bird’s size and the tail is short, stiff, and spiky.

Color Pattern

Western Meadowlarks have yellow underparts with intricately patterned brown, black and buff upper parts. A black “V” crosses the bright yellow breast; it is gray in winter. Contrasting stripes of dark brown and light buff mark the head. The outer tail feathers flash white in flight.


Look for Western Meadowlarks foraging on the ground alone or, in winter, in small, loose flocks. When flushed, Western Meadowlarks fly low, wings below the horizontal, gliding and flapping with short, stiff, quail-like wingbeats. In spring and summer, males sing out from atop fence posts, bushes, power lines, and other high points.


Western Meadowlarks seek the wide open spaces of native grasslands and agricultural fields for spring and summer breeding and winter foraging. Look for them among low to medium-height grasses more so than in tall fields. They also occur along the weedy verges of roads, marsh edges, and mountain meadows up to 10,000 feet.


Have you spotted this bird in a particular area?
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