Sweet Spring Song…

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Cool Facts

  • The nest of the Western Meadowlark usually is partially covered by a grass roof. It may be completely open, however, or it may have a complete roof and an entrance tunnel several feet long.
  • Although the Western Meadowlark looks nearly identical to the Eastern Meadowlark, the two species hybridize only very rarely. Mixed pairs usually occur only at the edge of the range where few mates are available. Captive breeding experiments found that hybrid meadowlarks were fertile, but produced few eggs that hatched.
  • A male Western Meadowlark usually has two mates at the same time. The females do all the incubation and brooding, and most of the feeding of the young.
  • The explorer Meriwether Lewis was the first to point out the subtle differences between the birds that would eventually be known as the Eastern and Western Meadowlarks, noting in June 1805 that the tail and bill shapes as well as the song of the Western Meadowlark differed from what was then known as the “oldfield lark” in the Eastern United States.
  • John James Audubon gave the Western Meadowlark its scientific name, Sturnella(starling-like) neglecta, claiming that most explorers and settlers who ventured west of the Mississippi after Lewis and Clark had overlooked this common bird.
  • In 1914, California grain growers initiated one of the earliest studies of the Western Meadowlark’s diet to determine whether the bird could be designated a pest species. Although they do eat grain, Western Meadowlarks also help limit numbers of crop-damaging insects.
  • Like other members of the blackbird, or icterid, family, meadowlarks use a feeding behavior called “gaping,” which relies on the unusually strong muscles that open their bill. They insert their bill into the soil, bark or other substrate, then force it open to create a hole. This gives meadowlarks access to insects and other food items that most birds can’t reach.
  • The Western Meadowlark is the state bird of six states: Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming. Only the Northern Cardinal is a more popular civic symbol, edging out the meadowlark by one state.
  • More information can be found here

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Western Bluebird

We are always so happy to see the return of these cheerful little birds.  They always reassure me that spring is truly on the way!   These were spotted on one of  my evening walks…IMG_9274-Edit-3

Cool Facts

  • Western Bluebirds are among the birds that nest in cavities—holes in trees or nest boxes. But look at their bills—they’re not equipped to dig out their own holes. They rely on woodpeckers or other processes to make their nest sites for them. This is one reason why dead trees are a valuable commodity in many habitats.

  • Occasionally Western Bluebirds have helpers at the nest. Most of the extra birds attending nests are helping their presumed parents, some after their own nests have failed. Interestingly, studies show that many nests include young that were not fathered by the resident male.

  • Genetic studies showed that 45% of nests had young that were not fathered by the defending male, and that 19% of all the young were fathered outside the pair bond.

  • Western Bluebirds have a gentle look, but territory battles can get heated. Rival males may grab each other’s legs, tumble to the ground, and then pin their opponent on the ground, stand over him, and jab at him with his bill.

  • A Western Bluebird weighs about an ounce. It needs about 15 calories (technically, kilocalories) per day, or 23 calories if raising young.

  • The oldest known Western Bluebird was 8 years, 8 months old.

  • For more information, visit here…

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