Breeding adult © Bradley Hacker 🦜 eBird S42456811 Macaulay Library ML 84952721
Nonbreeding adult/immature © Jack Parlapiano
Adult © Daniel Irons
Breeding adult © Janine McCabe
Breeding adult © Luke Seitz
+ 3
Nonbreeding adult/immature © Mark Scheel
Breeding adult © Dominic Sherony

Chihuahuan Meadowlark Sturnella lilianae

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Handsome grassland bird found from the southwestern US to central Mexico. It was long considered a subspecies of the widespread Eastern Meadowlark, but recent research has shown that it should be treated as a distinct species. In the limited area where their ranges meet, note that Chihuahuan Meadowlark has paler flanks and more white in the tail. Separating Chihuahuan Meadowlark and Western Meadowlark is a common ID challenge as their ranges mostly overlap. Voice is often the safest bet. Chihuahuan Meadowlark has a simpler, less gurgled song and its typical call note is a sharp “zit” (not a low “chuck”). Silent birds can be identified if the tail is seen well. Chihuahuan Meadowlark’s outer four tail feathers are almost completely white, whereas the white in Western Meadowlark’s tail is mostly restricted to the outer three feathers. Chihuahuan Meadowlark’s cheek also tends to be paler, though this is not always a reliable feature. Prefers tall, undisturbed grassland areas, often scattered with oak trees. Feeds on the ground where it usually stays well hidden, and sometimes sits on exposed perches, especially when singing.