The Eastern Meadowlark is nearly identical in appearance to the Western
Meadowlark. The two species are best differentiated by range and by
voice. The Western Meadowlark is
by far the more common of the two species in South Dakota, with the Eastern
Meadowlark only normally found in the extreme south-central part of the state
LaCreek National Wildlife Refuge is where they can most reliably be seen in the
state. Hybrids between the two species can occur where their ranges
in a variety of open habitats, including prairies, meadows, weedy pastures, hay
fields, and other open areas.
Diet: Primarily feeds on insects, especially during the summer
months when insects may make up nearly the entire diet. They will also
feed on seeds and waste grain, especially during winter months.
Behavior: Forages by walking along the ground,
plucking food items from the ground or from low vegetation. Sometimes
quite gregarious in the winter.
Nesting: May and June
Migration: They are permanent residents throughout
much of their range. However, birds at the northern end of their range
do generally move southward for the winter.
Conservation Status: Due to its dependence on open
habitats, the Eastern Meadowlark was probably at much higher populations
during the 1800s when much of the eastern U.S. forest land was cleared for
agriculture. As marginal agricultural land has been allowed to revert
back to forest, Eastern Meadowlark numbers have declined. Numbers are
still in decline throughout much of the East.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Eastern Meadowlark"
Photo Information: July 5th, 2010 - LaCreek National
Wildlife Refuge, South Dakota - Terry Sohl