The two North American meadowlarks, the eastern and western are so similar in appearance that even side by side it would be difficult to tell them apart.
Description of the Western Meadowlark:
Meadowlarks are stocky birds 20 to 25 centimetres in length. The outer tail feathers are white; the breast is yellow with a black V, with the upper part of the breast being streaked. The western species is slightly paler than the eastern breed.
Voice of the Western Meadowlark:
The westerns song is louder and more musical, singing five to seven flute like notes. The easterners voice is clear and high-pitched, singing three to five notes. The song of these two birds is the best way to distinguish them from one another.
Mating Habits of the Western Meadowlark:
The nest is a domed cup of grass and stems, usually on the ground in grassy fields or meadows. The female lays 3 to 7 eggs that are white and completely spotted and speckled with brown. The female incubates the eggs for 13 to 14 days with the young leaving the nest 12 days after hatching.
Usually 2 broods are raised each year.
Feeding Habits of the Western Meadowlark:
During the breeding season, insects such as spiders, grasshoppers and others are eaten. During the non-breeding season, these birds will eat wild fruits, grain, and wild grass seeds.
These birds have a complex bill musculature that allows them to force the bill open with considerable strength. This allows them to insert the bill into the ground or grass tangle, and then opened, prying apart the substrate. While this happens the eyes rotate forward slightly and the birds can see directly between their jaws into the hole they have created. This technique is referred to as “gaping”. Gaping allows meadowlarks to retrieve insects that other bird species are unable to retrieve.