North Dakota State Bird

North Dakota state bird: Western Meadowlark Carduelis tristis

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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 tail feathers.


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 State Bird:

  • 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.

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