Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta, south of Dryden, Tompkins Co., NY, 9/10 April 2000.
Discovered on 8 April 2000 by Ken Rosenberg.
Location: Delorme Atlas page 47, 4A. On West Lake Rd, 1.4 miles N (NW actually) of Cortland/Tompkins county line on state route 38, 3.1 miles S (SE) Dryden and the intersection with sr 13. West Lake Road makes an angled intersection with route 38, with West Lake road going due N off the NW/SE running 38. The meadow lark is defending the triangle from the intersection down to the first (only) house. It frequently sings from the telephone wires and from both sides of the road.
These pictures were taken by my son Jay and me with an Olympus D-450 digital camera through my Swarovski HD-80 spotting scope on 9 and 10 April 2000.
To see a brief discussion of the characters that separate the two species, go to this page.
These pictures show a couple of the identifying characters, first being the yellow malar area. Look at the area directly behind the base of the lower mandible.
This shot, although it just misses the tail feathers, shows the extent of barring on the wing feathers.
Jay got these pictures of the bird on the ground, but we were unable to get it to show off its tail. I managed to get a couple of shots that show the tail, but they're not as sharp as Jay's photos.
Here you can see the thin barring on the wings and tail feathers (as well as the yellow malar area).
These other photos give about the same view.
This is a zoomed up image of the bird on the wire (the zoom was done via the scope's zoom, not digitally). The narrow bars are obvious, and the lack of central darkness on the tail feathers should be detectable. For examples of the tail feather characters, go to the meadowlark specimen page.
On 9 April, the presumed male Western Meadowlark was seen in close proximity with an Eastern Meadowlark. The Western chased the Eastern a lot, but they didn't seem to be too upset. I never saw nor heard the Eastern sing, so it is possible that it is a female who is impressed by this outlander. I managed to get a couple of pictures that help point out the differences between the two species (I took them before I realized it wasn't the Western, and the differences are obvious, aren't they ;^)?).
This is the Eastern Meadowlark. Note the white malar region, the darker back with thicker dark stripes on the wings, and pretend you see the darker centers to the tail feathers.
Same thing here. With the slightly fuzzy photos, the difference between the yellowthroat and the white malar is highlighted.
Here you can see that the tail feathers are indeed dark. For better illustrations on the characters of Eastern Meadowlarks, go to the meadowlark specimen page.
Photos © Kevin J. McGowan
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