Like the Bobolinks I hadn’t seen since my teen years, I recently saw another hay field or wild meadow bird while out in the country in southern Ontario. First, I noticed their singing, then I saw several Eastern Meadowlarks showing off their dandelion-yellow chests and glossy black Vs from strategic perches in the middle of an unmown grassy field.
Eastern Meadowlarks Have a White V of Tail Feathers When They Fly
Another field mark I noticed when watching these Meadowlarks trying to attract mates and discourage rivals was their tail feathers. Several times, the birds flew up and almost hovered over the longer grasses and weeds. The outer feathers of their rather short tails flashed white, not unlike a Junco’s tail, but on a much larger bird. Their other brown and light feathers tended to blend in with the dead grasses.
I wasn’t able to capture a clear photo of this colouring, but I did get one photo of a Meadowlark in silhouette as a consolation prize.
Doesn’t a Yellow Chest Put a Meadowlark At Risk from Predators?
I’m sure there are times when wearing a neon-bright yellow patch is dangerous for an Eastern Meadowlark. At other times, though, they can blend right in with their background. I took a few photos in a row of this one bird and as it gradually turned away and faced more downwards, it virtually disappeared into the surrounding stalks and stems.
In this series, the Meadowlark gradually disappears. Keep an eye on the distance from the spike of brown weed seeds to try to find the bird. You can click on the photos to see a larger version.
Are Meadowlarks Uncommon?
Unfortunately, this formerly common bird has been dropping rapidly in numbers. Some of this is due to loss of habitat. Like Bobolinks, it prefers longer grasses to raise its family and hunt. Fewer farms are of the “seven cows ambling around the meadow” variety.
Various programs are underway, though, to encourage landowners to keep a mid-length pasture on their unused property. Credit Valley Conservation even offered a free bus tour and talk to anyone interested, showing them an example of a similar field created just for the birds at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.
I hope some of these programs work so that my children can show their children Meadowlarks calling from a field when they are fifty!
Do Meadowlarks brighten up a pasture near you? Please share your sighting with a comment.