Thursday, July 26, 2012

Eastern Meadowlark

On my way to work (or, I guess from is the more exciting way to put it given then I'm heading back to my family from work) there is a stretch of road where Eastern Meadowlarks have chosen to nest and raise their young.  Throughout the last weeks there has hardly been a day when I don't see at least one of the birds on a hydro wire, atop the tip of  a spruce, or perched on a fence post.  The bright yellow breast and black bib prominently displayed, is usually joined with a very hearty singing of a whistling melody - only unheard because of my speeding by in the car, mostly in the morning, on the way to work.  

One day a couple weeks ago, I had my camera with me and sighted one of the birds on the hydro line and stopped, approached behind a spruce tree and was able to get quite close before it got too uneasy and flew away.

Eastern Meadowlark

I followed it down the road, and stopped as it perched itself on a farmer's fence.  Across the long grass I noticed another similar shape facing away, tottering a bit in a balancing act on another fence wire.  With my approach from the roadside, it awkwardly fluttered into the grass.  I'm pretty sure it was a recently fledged young one given it's apparently smaller size and awkwardness.

fledgling Eastern Meadowlark

The adult promptly followed and vanished into the long grass.  Though I waited for a bit, I didn't see either of them again.  You can see the characteristic white markings on the outer portion of the tail in the photo below.  They are about the same size as a robin, but plumper and sit on the wire in what looks like an awkward and unbalanced position, almost looking like it will fall forward as its legs seem attached at the rear of its body.

Adult Eastern Meadowlark following
young one into the grass

A morning or so later, left early and saw the lark (actually they are not Larks, but from the blackbird family).

Eastern Meadowlark takeoff
This time with no spruce to hide behind, my approach was quickly avoided and it again flew down to the tall grassy spot from the day before.  The grass is long in a horse paddock which is empty, perfect nesting ground for these ground nesting birds which will build nests in the tall grasses, sometimes even weaving roofs and entrances.  It moved around, often sending out a sounding call, but blending into the grass well, hard to see.

Eastern Meadowlark in long grass

It soon headed to a clump of grass, thicker and greener than the rest, and stayed there for the remainder of my stop.  It sang from the top of this clump and often looked down into the clump, and stayed their, seemingly with a purpose.  Even if I had been tempted to go and check it out, stressing the bird by an apparent nest wasn't a good idea, and the paddock being close to a house and electric fencing on its top dissuaded me as well.

Eastern Meadowlark singing on nest site?

While there, a Goldfinch brightened the same spruce tree the Eastern Meadowlark had left.  They are just nesting now as they feed only on wild flower seeds.  Since this is almost their sole diet, they nest this late timed with the ripening of the seeds to ensure a plentiful supply of food.  A common scene including goldfinches is a perch on a Canadian Thistle.  I'd love to get a shot like that some day, but they are very jumpy and hard to approach.  This picture is a crop for that reason.

American Goldfinch

A parting shot of an unknown bug on a Queen Anne's Lace.

Bug on Queen Anne's Lace

And for those wondering about where the pictures from the Lodge are, these pictures were in the queue first.... they're coming. :)


  1. Great posting Brian. Eastern Meadowlarks eluded me in Ontario until I realized how specific their habitat needs are. Large grassy fields (meadows) are where they like to be. No meadows, no meadowlarks! I photographed a Goldfinch feeding off some wildflowers at Ojibway a few years ago and that remains one of my favorite birding-habitat photos.

    1. Thanks Dwayne. I searched your blog and couldn't find your nice goldfinch it on there?


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