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Nature Notebook – Meadowlarks

Spring means the arrival of many migratory birds and one species that can be seen while driving around or hiking locally is the eastern meadowlark. The robin-sized species can commonly be found singing from fenceposts and powerlines in pastures, grasslands and agricultural areas from mid-March to mid-November.

Eastern meadowlarks have yellow underparts and brown mottled upperparts that help them blend in to vegetation from above. White outer tail feather help the birds distract predators. If one comes too close to the nest, the female will burst out of the grass with a flash of color distracting the predator. Once lured far away from the nest, the female will fold her white feathers in and disappear back into the grass.

These birds mainly eat arthropods like insects and spiders but will also eat grubs, worms and seeds.

Western meadowlarks can also be found in southwest Michigan but are rare. They can be easily distinguished from eastern meadowlarks by their song, since their appearance is so similar.  The eastern meadowlark flute-like song is more varied than the western’s.