Western Meadowlark is an iconic bird of the Great Plains, Great Basin deserts, and western grasslands. Western Meadowlark is migratory, withdrawing from its more northerly breeding areas in October and November, and wintering in Mexico and the southwestern US. Watch as it returns northward in March and April.
The migration of Western Meadowlark and certain other shorter distance migrants tends to be poorly known. In some areas, they seem to be “resident,” when in actuality the breeding populations are greatly supplemented by wintering birds from November to March. As is often the case, the breeding season habitat requirements are more stringent than in migration. The meadowlark occurrence in June and July is a good representation for the areas where grassland or sagebrush desert suitable for meadowlarks dominate the landscape. Notice how the color in migration is more even across the landscape, as migrants are found in areas that may not necessarily be suitable for breeding.
A few Western Meadowlarks do occur east of the apparent range in these maps, but see the commentary for Eastern Bluebird or other species for an explanation of why this is can be expected for these maps. In reality, Western Meadowlarks east of the Mississippi are quite local and rare.