Oregon is the United States’ 9th biggest and 27th most populated state. With various woods, shrublands, deserts, enormous bodies of water, and even volcanoes, it’s one of the most geographically varied states in the US.
In 1927, the Western meadowlark became the official state bird of Oregon. With its contemplative, reflective face, the medium-sized, vividly colored, spotted meadowlark bird appears to examine everything that goes on from its perch amid the state’s wide grasslands. Here are some interesting facts about this western meadowlark you may not know.
Why is the Western Meadowlark Oregon’s state bird?
Oregon, rich in natural treasures, picked the wild meadowlark as its official bird. This bird took up residence in the state’s vast grasslands, and youngsters all around the state fell in love with it. The Oregon Audubon Society ran a voting contest for kids in 1927. According to the Portland Audubon group’s website, more than half of the state’s almost 80,000 pupils voted for the Western meadowlark at the time. The number of meadowlarks has decreased as meadows have gone over time. The state government is considering modifying its legislation to re-designate a new state bird rather than safeguarding its environment.
When did the Western Meadowlark become Oregon’s official bird?
The state of Oregon did not name its official bird until 1927. The state’s governor issued a declaration recognizing the bird as the state bird after the contest ended and the schoolchildren’s ballots were collected. Montana, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming have the Western Meadowlark as their state bird.
What does Oregon’s state bird look like?
A western meadowlark looks a bit like an oversized, brown sparrow. Measuring between six and seven inches in length with a wingspan of nine to ten inches, it has a long beak that ends in a bright yellow tip. Its crown is black and feathers on its back are streaked with brown and white. The bird’s colors serve to camouflage it from predators both on land and in flight.
The Western meadowlark is around 6.5 to 10 inches long from head to tail. It has a 16-inch wingspan. These little birds are three to four ounces in weight.
What are the habits of Western Meadowlarks?
Meadowlarks are active throughout the day. They move under shelter and remain silent at night. At night, you won’t hear them sing. These birds construct their nests on the ground, among sparse plants and grasses. They aren’t found in woods or even heavy vegetation.
Before females of its kind arrive, the male western meadowlark builds a mating area. Before females arrive, they may spend up to a month guarding its area. Like many other birds, males and females communicate through song or mating calls. They find each other as the female gathers nesting materials and then build the nest and breed.
The doting mom and dad aggressively safeguard the babies as they emerge from the eggs. If someone approaches, however, they will forsake a nest with eggs. Because the incubating eggs are left behind, you should never approach a meadowlark’s nest, and you should never let your kid do so. Other intruders that disturb their solitude will be chased away by the male meadowlark, regardless of the predator’s size.
Where do they live?
Western meadowlarks prefer open, grassy fields and prairies. They can be found in places such as grazing pastures and golf courses, as well as off dirt roads and in empty lots. In Oregon’s wetlands, they can also be spotted near ponds, sloughs and marshes. If a western meadowlark is spotted outside of these preferred habitats – such as your lawn or community green space – it might not be native to that area and could be considered an invasive species.
How do they behave?
The Western meadowlark feeds on seeds, insects and spiders. Some of its predators include eagles, hawks and coyotes. The birds migrate south for winter to California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico. They typically build their nests in open fields that have short vegetation, such as an area where a fire has recently occurred. Nests are made from materials including small pieces of grass or mosses that are bound together with cobwebs by spider eggs found in rabbit burrows and cow dung.
Do Western meadowlarks live in groups?
Meadowlarks form nuclear families, despite the fact that males have two families. Although these birds are monogamous, they do not stay with the same female for their whole lives. They maintain two separate residences and equally support both families. The food is delivered to each nest, and the female bird feeds the young chicks.
Their eggs take around 13 to 16 days to incubate. At around two weeks of age, young birds leave the nest after maturing. Because chicks cannot fly, their parents must continue to care for them as they explore the grassland. They start flying at the age of five to six weeks. This migratory bird spends its winters in Mexico and the southern United States. During the summer, these birds migrate as far north as Canada. The birds return to their summer home in Canada in late April or early May. The western meadowlark may fly as far as the eastern meadowlark’s nesting areas. When the time comes, the two subspecies will mate.
Are western meadowlarks endangered?
No, they are not. However, they are considered to be a species of concern as their population has shown a significant decline over recent years. This is mostly due to habitat loss caused by development and changes in land use.
Interesting things about western meadowlarks
1. Male Western Meadowlarks are responsible for building nests and incubating eggs, while females feed both themselves and their mates. When males arrive back at their nesting territory, they wait until a female arrives before beginning work on the nest.
2. Western Meadowlarks can lay anywhere from two to six eggs in a single clutch; however, it is common for only three or four of these eggs to hatch successfully as other chicks may become food for predators such as snakes, coyotes and foxes or starve due to neglect from their parents or siblings that also desire food from their parents.
3. The western meadowlark is found from Canada to Mexico, and from Alaska to Argentina.
4. In captivity, western meadowlarks can live as long as 15 years.
5. While foraging for food, a typical habitat would be grasslands or prairies; they prefer open areas with short vegetation.
6. The western meadowlark is mostly ground-dwelling in nature; they prefer staying on dry land rather than wetland habitat.