Checklist S55602776

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Location
Nomani farm

Owner Louis Bevier

Historical
  • 3
  • 0.2 km
Checklist Comments

Paul Lehman, Curtis Marantz, and I visited this farm located 3 miles NW of the town of Norridgewock along Winding Hill Road. We were focused on seeing a Western Meadowlark found here 25 May by Wally Sumner. The bird frequented a hay field on the south side of the road. We eventually heard the bird sing and subsequently managed to obtain good views of it. Unfortunately, the bird sang only a few times this day, so Curtis was unable to get any tape of its song (I did get tape on a previous day). The bird was frequenting an open field in a rolling countryside not far from a small river. The fields used by the meadowlark appeared to be used both as pastures and mowed for hay. In fact, it was only the day or two prior to our visit that the field that had been preferred by the meadowlark was mowed for hay. This resulted in the bird moving back farther away from the road when we saw it. I was told subsequently that the Western Meadowlark was not seen again after this particular day. (Curtis missed the bird entirely during an attempt to tape record it in the fog early the following morning, 15 June). Clear, mild+ (10 knot) breeze, and in the upper 80s. Birding from 5:30-6:45 pm.

The Western Meadowlark initially frequented fields along the road, but after these fields had been mowed a day or two prior to our visit, the bird moved to a field well back from the road. Even in the afternoon, the bird sang on occasion, allowing us to locate it as it sang from exposed perches (generally fence posts). It spent much of its time foraging amid the tall grass of a fenced pasture, however. Observed with 20-60× spotting scope and bird probably 50-75 meters from us. The late afternoon sun was at our backs, so the conditions were quite good for seeing colors. Most interesting was the observation of this bird foraging on the ground alongside what appeared to be a female Eastern Meadowlark (S. magna), thus allowing us to compare the two species directly (though unfortunately, not allowing a comparison of birds of the same sex).

Observations

  1. Number observed: 5
  2. Number observed: 6

    Details: singing

  3. Number observed: 1

    Details: heard singing

  4. Number observed: 2
  5. Number observed: 5
  6. Number observed: 5
  7. Number observed: 8
  8. Number observed: 5
  9. Number observed: 1

    Details: along road

  10. Number observed: 1

    Details: heard singing

  11. Number observed: 1

    Details: heard singing

  12. Number observed: 2
  13. Number observed: 2

    Details: heard, song, call

  14. Number observed: 5

    Details: singing males seen

  15. Number observed: 1

    Details: Same bird found 25 May by W. Sumner. This was the last day the bird was seen.

    [CAM notes edited] Although difficult to describe, the exceptionally loud, warbled song of this bird was totally typical of the species, one that I grew up hearing regularly in California. It also gave a “churk” call that sounded to me like that of Western Meadowlark, but somewhat different from that of Eastern; by contrast, the rattle given by this bird seemed a little flat to me.

    This was a medium-sized passerine with a flat-crowned appearance, a plump body, and a medium-length tail that I estimated to be just less than half as long as the body. Quite conspicuous was a long, sharp-tipped bill that, if reversed, would have extended back to the rear edge of the auriculars. The crown, from the forehead back to the nape, was blackish in color, apart from fine, brownish-gray streaking and a whitish, median-stripe that continued prominently back to the nape. The supraloral region, extending from the base of the upper mandible back to about the top, rear corner of the eye was a deep-yellow in color. Behind this, the superciliary region was whitish back to the nape. Because both the dark crown and the white of the median and superciliary stripes ended at the nape, regions of the same color failed to connect to one another around the other color. The nape itself was light-gray and minimally streaked. Forming the lower limit of the superciliary was an eyeline that began as dusky lores, followed by a post-ocular stripe that continued from the eyes back across the top of the auriculars. Below this stripe, the auriculars were pale-gray, but with some whitish to pale-gray streaking extending up into the upper border, and some darker streaking along the rear edge that produced a weakly defined, rear margin. Continuing back across the upperparts, the mantle and scapulars were a combination of blackish and pale brownish-gray. Although I believe that both the lesser and median coverts were obscured behind the breast and scapular feathers, the greaters were evident. Both the greater coverts, and the portion of the remiges visible from the side, were light brown with dark-brown to blackish-brown barring that was relatively fine in character. Whereas the uppertail coverts were light-brown with blackish streaks, the tail was medium-brown with dark barring. Returning to the underparts, the throat, breast, and belly were a deep-yellow in color, with this yellow also extending to a degree up into the malar region, where it blended into the grayish-white of the auriculars. The breast splotch was roughly crescent-shaped, despite its somewhat irregular appearance of being more extensive on the left side than on the right. I believe, however, that it extended up along both sides of the throat to about the lower, rear corner of the auriculars. Although there were several, rounded spots of black at the sides of the breast, the upper and middle regions of the flanks were basically unmarked; only on the rear flanks were there again markings, these being evident as minimal streaking. The ground-color of the flanks, thighs, and undertail coverts was a pale, whitish-buff in color, rather than the warm-brownish color typical of the flanks of Eastern Meadowlark. Whereas the culmen and the sides of the upper mandible were black, the cutting edges of both mandibles and the basal four-fifths of the lower mandible were a pale, bluish-gray in color, the latter blending to black distally. The eyes were dark, possibly brown, in color, and the long, seemingly stout legs and feet were conspicuously pink.

  16. Number observed: 1

    Details: female

    [Additional notes that would not fit under Western Meadowlark]
    My past experience suggests that the best characters for separating the two, North American meadowlarks are song, presence of yellow in the malar region (especially evident in summer males), and generally paler, grayer coloration to the upperparts. Louis further noted that the pattern of the sides and flanks is another key character that has been largely overlooked until recently. In all of these respects, our bird fit Western Meadowlark but not Eastern. In direct comparison with the apparent, female Eastern Meadowlark seen this day, the Western Meadowlark had a generally lighter crown, more grayish and possibly paler upperparts, and less streaking on flanks that were paler and less richly colored. The present account typed 18 January 2002 based on notes that I wrote from memory on the evening of 14 June 2001.

  17. Number observed: 2
  18. Number observed: 5

    Details: males

  19. Number observed: 1

    Details: heard singing

  20. Number observed: 1

    Details: heard singing