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Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)

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Ivan Doig on the Music of Birds

Writer Ivan Doig wrote about bird songs, including that of this Western Meadowlark, in his book, Ride with Me, Mariah Montana: "Warbles and trills and solo after solo ... the air was magically busy. None of us spoke while the songs of the birds poured undiluted. I suppose we were afraid the spate... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

Meadowlarks and Grasslands

The clear, whistled music of the Eastern Meadowlark (seen here) is the unmistakable anthem of eastern North America's farmlands and open country. The Western Meadowlark and its sweet, liquid notes epitomize the natural expanses of the American West. Sadly, birds of such grassy habitats are among... read more »

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What's Your State Bird?

All states have an official bird, usually one that's associated with its particular region. Many state birds are quite common, although Hawaii's chosen bird, the Nene, a type of goose, is endangered. The bird chosen by the most states — seven — is the Northern Cardinal, followed by the Western... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

State Birds

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have official birds. To become a state bird, it helped to be familiar, colorful, and have a punchy song. The Northern Cardinal perches as state bird in seven eastern states, the Western Meadowlark in six western states. Bluebirds - like this Western... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Singing with Meadowlarks

No song epitomizes the open spaces of the American West like that of the Western Meadowlark. Indeed, the song of the Western Meadowlark can be rightly acclaimed the essential musical theme of much of the West. It's a bird of grass - and sage-lands, fields and pastures, meadows and prairies - a... read more »

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Ponderosa Pine Savanna

In a Western ponderosa pine savanna, tall pines dot an open, grassy landscape. A Western Bluebird flits from a gnarly branch, as this Cassin's Finch belts out a rapid song. The trees here grow singly or in small stands. Upslope, the pines become denser, mixing with firs. Downhill, the trees give... read more »

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Celebrating 50 Years and One Rare Bird at Wenas

The song of a Western Meadowlark rings out across the eastern slope of Washington’s Cascade Mountains. Come Memorial Day weekend, members of Audubon and friends will celebrate 50 years of gathering at the Wenas Campground to welcome the birds and wildflowers of spring. Two hundred and fifty-seven... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding, festival, humor

Palouse Country

The Palouse country in southeastern Washington features rolling hills, fertile soils, and grassland birds like this Western Meadowlark, which nests in native vegetation between wheat fields. Horned Larks are less choosy, nesting in the wheat fields and fledging their broods before harvest time.... read more »

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Jazz for the Birds

Birds are an inspiration for many musicians. Before writing “The Penguin,” Raymond Scott probably saw these birds at the Central Park Zoo. Though penguins are clumsy on land, Gentoos like the ones pictured here are the fastest of any diving bird, reaching 22 miles an hour. Speaking of swimmers,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music

Grassland Meander

In summer, the grasslands of southern Saskatchewan resound with bird song. This Bobolink is among the birds that combine their voices in a rich, ringing chorus. Through these grasslands flows the Frenchman River, twisting and looping — the epitome of a meandering river. The southern reaches of... read more »

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The Meadowlark and Water Ouzel - featuring Gordon Hempton

Gordon Hempton, the Soundtracker, likens the joy he feels after a day of recording Western Meadowlarks (their eastern cousin is seen here on the left...) to the experience of John Muir, who knew individual American Dippers (also known as Water Ouzels; seen here on the right) by their songs.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  recording, reflection, sound, vocalization

Solon Towne and the Meadowlarks

Over a century ago, a Nebraska man — an audiologist by training — named Solon Towne “collected” the songs of meadowlarks. According to his daughters, he’d saunter about their farm, listening carefully. Then he’d hurry back to his desk to transcribe the birds’ songs into musical notes. To help him... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization
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