Saturday, March 21, 2015

Western Meadowlark

I took this photo of a Western Meadowlark—you can tell it from an Eastern Meadowlark because the yellow of the throat clearly spills up into the malar region under the eye—near Randolf, Minnesota, on 9 May 2014.  I have blogged about the difficulty of telling Western and Eastern meadowlarks apart, but this clearly is the Western.

Although the two species can be very hard to identify, they do not often interbreed. Recent studies show that hybrids tend to be sterile (Davis and Layon 2008). Meadowlark populations are declining across their range—up to 6% a year in some places. Even where numbers appear to be stable, like in the Northern Great Plains, local birders remember many more birds, even in recent years. No doubt destruction of native grasslands contributes to this trend.

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