North Dakota state bird: Western
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North Dakota State Bird Description:
Size: 6 to 11 inches (16-26 cm)
Wingspan: 16 inches (41 cm)
Weight: 3.14 to 4.06 ounces (89 - 115 g)
The Western Meadowlark is a large, stocky songbird. The
throat, chest and belly are bright yellow with a black V on the
chest. The wings and back are white with brown and black streaks.
It has a long pointed bill and a short tail. The tail has white outer
The Western Meadowlark is found in open country, including native
grasslands, pastures, agricultural fields, roadsides, and desert
grasslands. It is frequently seen singing atop fenceposts along
roadsides in native grasslands and agricultural areas.
The Western Meadowlark is a short-distance migrator. Its breeding range
stretches from British Columbia, northern Michigan, and northwestern
Ohio, south to Missouri, central Texas and northern Mexico.
Meadowlarks feed on caterpillars, grasshoppers and cutworms which are
insects capable of causing great damage to food crops.
The female Western Meadowlark builds its nest in a depression on
the ground. She shapes it by digging in the dirt with her bill. She
then lines the depression with soft grass and makes a roof by pulling
grass and plants over the depression. She then weaves in grass to make
a waterproof dome, leaving enough space for an opening.
The clutch contains 3 to 7 eggs and the incubation period is
about 12 days. The meadowlark usually has two broods a year. The male
protects the nest by noisily chasing intruders away.
A Few Things You Probably Didn't Know About the North Dakota
The nest of the Western Meadowlark is
sometimes left open. It is usually at least partially covered by a
waterproof roof made from woven grass. It may even have a complete roof
and an entrance tunnel several feet long.
The male uses visual display behaviors to
attract a mate. When he finds a female that he wants to mate with, he
points his bill in the air, puffs out his yellow throat and flaps his
wings above his head. If that doesn't get the female's attention,
he hops up and down.
A male Western Meadowlark usually has two
mates at the same time. The females do all the incubation and
brooding, and most of the feeding of the young.