Bird of the Week

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the western meadowlark.
The piercing flute-like call of the male western meadowlark is one of the sounds of spring in Pagosa country. Perched on a fencepost, or high on a tree or wire, the male meadowlark sings in open grassy areas to establish his breeding territory and attract mates. While the meadowlark’s mottled, brown back serves to hide it well in the grass, its bright yellow under parts and broad, black bib make it easy to identify when perched.
Meadowlarks are year-round residents in our area, but will move to the southern parts of the county when snow covers the ground. Their diet changes with the season. In spring and summer, they probe the ground with their long, thin bills for spiders and a variety of insects. In fall, they feast on the seeds of weeds, and in winter on grain seeds.
Meadowlarks, who lay eggs in dome covered grass nests on the ground, are extremely sensitive to humans while incubating and will abandon a nest if disturbed.
Although still numerous, like many grassland birds, the western meadowlark suffers from the loss of good habitat, and the population is in decline. Efforts to restore and maintain the grasslands of North America are crucial to the survival of the western meadowlark and many other bird species.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.

This story was posted on June 10, 2018.