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Eastern Meadowlark - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Sturnella magna)
Sturnella magna

Includes Lilian's Meadowlark


20–24 cm (7¾-9½ in). A medium-sized icterid.


Photo © by KC Foggin
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, October 2016
  • Yellow underparts
  • Black "V" on breast
  • White flanks with black streaks
  • Upperparts are mainly brown with black streaks
  • Long pointed bill
  • Head is striped with light brown and black


The liliana group of subspecies are paler and with more white on wings than other subspecies

Similar Species

Very similar in appearance to the Western Meadowlark, but the Eastern usually has white malar instead of yellow and show more white in the tail. They are best distinguished by song.


Subspecies magna
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Belton, Stillhouse Hollow Lake, Rivers Bend Park, Bell County, Texas, USA, January 2018

Across eastern North America to South America. The ranges of the Eastern and Western Meadowlarks overlap across the center of the continent. These birds are permanent residents throughout much of their range. Northern birds migrate to the southern parts of the range.


Subspecies magna, 1st Year
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Belton, Texas, USA, Date TBD

The pale southwestern desert form, S. m. lilianae, was split by Sibley and Monroe as Lilian's Meadowlark. This split has not been accepted by subsequent authorities (AOU, Clements, Howard and Moore) but has been accepted in Handbook of Birds of the World[2]. If accepted, it is uncertain which subspecies should in included with liliana: at least auropectoralis and possibly others found mostly in Mexico.


Photo © by bobsofpa
Viera Wetlands, Florida, USA, February 2009

This is a polytypic species consisting of 17 subspecies[1]

  • S. m. hippocrepis: Cuba and Isle of Pines
  • S. m. magna: Southern Ontario east to Quebec and south to northern Texas and north-eastern Georgia
  • S. m. argutula: South-east Kansas and Oklahoma to eastern US (Carolinas to Florida)
  • S. m. hoopesi: South Texas (Eagle Pass) to north Coahuila, Nuevo Le¢n and northern Tamaulipas
  • S. m. auropectoralis: Mexico (Durango and Sinaloa to Michoacan, Mexico and north Puebla)
  • S. m. saundersi: South Mexico (Oaxaca)
  • S. m. alticola: Highlands of southern Mexico (Guerrero, southern Puebla, Veracruz) to Costa Rica
  • S. m. mexicana: Caribbean slope of south-eastern Mexico (Veracruz and Tabasco to Chiapas)
  • S. m. griscomi: South-eastern Mexico (arid coastal northern Yucatan Peninsula)
  • S. m. inexpectata: Pine savanna of Belize, Pet‚n of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua
  • S. m. subulata: Pacific slope of Panama
  • S. m. meridionalis: Eastern Andes of Colombia to Andes of north-western Venezuela
  • S. m. paralios: Northern Colombia and savannas of western Venezuela
  • S. m. monticola: Tepuis of southern Venezuela (Mount Roraima)
  • S. m. praticola: Llanos of eastern Colombia to southern Venezuela and northern Guyana
  • S. m. quinta: Suriname and north-eastern Amazonian Brazil
  • S. m. lilianae, Lilian's Meadowlark: Northern Arizona to eastern New Mexico, south-western Texas, southern Sonora and north-western Chihuahua


Their breeding habitat is grasslands and prairie, also pastures and hay fields.


These birds forage on the ground or in low vegetation, sometimes probing with its bill.


They mainly eat insects, but also seeds and berries. In winter, they often feed in flocks.


The nest is on the ground, covered with a roof woven from grasses. There may be more than one nesting female in a male's territory.


Examples of Eastern Meadowlark giving the song of Western Meadowlark are rare


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Birdforum thread discussing new splits in HBW16
  3. Birds of North America Online

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