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December 2017 Bird of the Month – EASTERN MEADOWLARK

Eastern Meadowlark (c) 2015, Susan Faulkner Davis all rights reserved

December’s Bird of the Month is the Eastern Meadowlark, and here is the article in the upcoming December 2017 Kite written by Ben Kolstad.

We conclude this season of bird-of-the-month articles with the blackbird that isn’t. Imagine a female Red-winged Blackbird plumped up in all directions—long, pointy bill on a slender head (very distinctive profile), plump body, short tail, long legs—and add in a striking yellow chest and a black necklace in the shape of a V. Then take the trilling chickareeeee-a of the Red-winged Blackbird’s call and turn it into a lovely, lazy descending three-part whistle, and you’ve got yourself an Eastern Meadowlark, Sturnella magna—the name means “big little starling.” (Starlings and meadowlarks are both icterids: blackbirds.) If you’re in the right habitat (grasslands and prairies, particularly with fenceposts), in the right season, you’ll see or hear the males frequently. They sing from elevated posts, inviting two and sometimes even three females to share their territory (usually at least 6 acres are needed). The meadowlark nests on the ground, often among tall grasses, where its cryptic coloration conceals it quite efficiently. Unfortunately for this bird, its ideal habitat, according to the Cornell Lab’s All About Birds article, “small, family farms with pastureland and grassy fields,” is being replaced by “larger, row-cropping agricultural operations or by development” and is in precipitous decline, resulting in an estimated 89% reduction in numbers from 1966 to 2015.  In Palm Beach County, these birds can be seen on the approaches to the STAs and pretty much anywhere in the EAA.

Photographer’s please note: next month’s BOM is the Roseate Spoonbill.

Please check out the picture by Susan Faulkner Davis in the December KITE cover and to see the slide show of the entire virtual gallery this month, along with photographer etc  — click on BOM SLIDE SHOW below the pictures displayed here:

December 2017 Bird of the Month – Eastern Meadowlark Slide Show