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 the fastest declining species in North America. Learn more about these birds and efforts to conserve their habitats. The meadowlarks' best hope lies in the conservation of farmland and grassland.
Learn more about the Conservation Reserve Program.
Meadowlarks and Grasslands
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
[Eastern Meadowlark song, followed by Western Meadowlark song]
With their bright yellow breasts and superlative songs, meadowlarks are among our most familiar and cherished birds.
The Eastern Meadowlark’s clear, whistled music is the unmistakable anthem of eastern North America’s farmlands and open country. [Eastern Meadowlark song] The Western Meadowlark and its sweet, liquid notes epitomize the natural expanses of the American West. [Western Meadowlark song]
Sadly, both meadowlarks face ominous threats. True to their name, they are birds of meadows and grasslands. Birds of such grassy habitats are among the fastest declining species in North America.
How could this happen? Well, with most native grasslands transformed by settlement and farming, meadowlarks have turned to pastures and hayfields as habitat. But here, their nesting is often disturbed by overgrazing, the cutting of hay, and seasonal burning. More permanently disruptive: Vast tracts of farmland are succumbing to suburban development.
The meadowlarks’ best hope for the future lies in farmland and grassland conservation. There are agricultural practices that are compatible with the needs of birds – such as delaying hay-cutting until nesting birds have fledged. And the Conservation Reserve Program enables landowners to keep their acreage in grasslands. [Eastern Meadowlark song, followed by Western Meadowlark song]
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Eastern Meadowlark recorded by LNS 106881 R.S. Little (NY state), Western Meadowlark by G. Vyn LNS 137513.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and produced by John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org June 2017/2021 Narrator: Mary McCann