Western Meadowlark - Sturnella neglecta
Medium-sized terrestrial songbird with long, slender bill, short tail with rather rigid rectrices, and long legs and toes. Nostril ovate, overhang by prominent horny operculum. Crown dark with light median stripe. A light line over eye becomes bright yellow from eye to bill. Upperparts with intricate concealing pattern of buffs, browns, and black streaks and bars. Underparts bright yellow, the sides, flanks, and undertail-coverts dull white, broadly streaked and spotted with dusky black. Outer wing and tail feathers barred with black and brown; outer rectrices partly white. Adult has a black shield-shaped or crescentic patch on chest. Sexes similar in coloration. Female smaller and slightly less strongly marked (Lanyon 1994).
Western Hemisphere Range
eBird Occurrence Map
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Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations:
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Map Help and Descriptions
(direct evidence "B")
(indirect evidence "b")
No evidence of Breeding
(regular observations "W")
(at least one obs. "w")
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
In the Bozeman area, normal migration periods are not determined for spring, and are September 5 to October 25 in the fall.
Most common in native grasslands and pastures, but also in hay and alfalfa fields, weedy borders of croplands, roadsides, orchards, or other open areas; occasionally desert grassland. Preference shown for habitats with good grass and lighter cover (Lanyon 1994).
Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
- Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
How Associations Were Made
We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
- Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
- Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.
In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.
However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if
point observations were associated with that system.
High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.
The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at email@example.com
or (406) 444-3655.
Suggested Uses and Limitations
Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.
These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp
) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.
Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.
Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.
Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).
Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.
- Adams, R.A. 2003. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. 289 p.
- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34. Missoula, MT.
- Foresman, K.R. 2001. The wild mammals of Montana. Special Publication No. 12. Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists. 278 p.
- Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998. Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates. Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 1302 p.
- Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32. 72 p.
- Maxell, B.A. 2000. Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species. Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1. Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana. 161 p.
- Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath. 2004. Amphibians and reptiles of Montana. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.
- Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
Sparse and Barren Systems
Wetland and Riparian Systems
- Occasionally Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
Sparse and Barren Systems
Wetland and Riparian Systems
Diet consists largely of vegetable matter (grain and weed seeds) and animal matter (insects). Favorite insect foods include beetles, weevils, wireworms, cutworms, grasshoppers, and crickets. Seasonal differences: grain during winter and early spring, insects late spring and summer, weed seeds in fall (Lanyon 1994).
Females arrive 2 to 4 weeks after male. Nests are located in pasture, prairie, or other grassland habitat; rarely in cultivated fields. Well concealed, on ground, often in shallow depressions and usually in fairly dense vegetation. Eggs usually ovate, ground-colored white and speckled. Clutch size ranges 3 to 7 eggs (Lanyon 1994). Near Fortine, egg dates range from April 30 to June 23. Statewide, nesting is from the 2nd week of May to the 1st week of August.
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Lanyon, W.E. 1994. Western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta). In A. Poole and F. Gill (eds.), The Birds of North America, No. 104. Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington D.C.: The American Ornithologists Union.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
- American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pp.
- Best, L.B. 1970. Effects of ecological changes induced by various sagebrush control techniques on non-game birds. M.S. thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 74pp.
- Chalfoun, A. 2005. Habitat use and quality for non-game shrub-steppe birds, Final performance report
- Decker Coal Company., 1978, 1978 Sage Grouse Report. In Decker Coal Company West Pit Permit. Vol. 3. 26.4.304(10-11), 305, 306, and 307. Updated Rules Rewrite, July 1, 1991.
- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant landbirds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. U.S.D.A. For. Serv. N. Region Publ. R1-93-34. Missoula, Mont.
- Dobkin, D.S. 1994. Conservation and management of neotropical migrant landbirds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. Univ. Idaho Press, Moscow, Idaho. 220 pp.
- Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
- Elliott, Joe C. and Hydrometrics, Inc., Helena, MT., 1994, Supplement to wildlife baseline investigation life-of-mine expansion plan: Regal Mine, Barretts Minerals, Inc., Madison County, Montana. August 2000. In Life-of Mine Expansion Plan: Barretts Minerals, Inc., Regal Mine, Madison County, Montana. Vol. 2. App. C: Baseline Wildlife Reconnaissance. December 1999.
- FaunaWest Wildlfife Consultants, Boulder, MT., 1997, Draft Environmental Assessment for management of black-tailed prairie dogs at Fort William Henry Harrison. June 1997.
- Graham, Dean, and Craig Swick., 1977, A Field evaluation of the cyclone seeder for reducing Richardson ground squirrel populations causing damage in central Montana . August 1977.
- Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-32. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 72 pp.
- Johnsgard, P.A. 1979. Birds of the Great Plains: breeding species and their distribution. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 539 pp.
- Johnsgard, P.A. 1992. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the northern Rocky Mountain region. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xi + 504 pp.
- Johnson, D.H. and L.D. Igl. 1995. Contributions of the Conservation Reserve Program to populations of breeding birds in North Dakota. Wilson Bull. 107(4): 709-718.
- Johnson, R.G., and S.A. Temple. 1990. Nest predation and brood parasitism of tallgrass prairie birds. Journal of Wildlife Management 54:106-111.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Browns Gulch, Rocker, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.012. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Ringling - Galt, Ringling, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.015. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Browns Gulch, Rocker, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.012. February 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Peterson Ranch, Hall, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.010. February 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
- Lanyon, Wesley E. 1994. Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta). Species Account Number 104. The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Retrieved 3/25/2008 from The Birds of North America Online database
- Lenard, S.J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar's Montana Bird Distribution, 6th Edition. Montana Audubon: Helena, MT, 144 pp.
- Montana Bird Distribution Committee. 2012. P.D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution. 7th Edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, Montana. 208 pp. + foldout map.
- Montana Dept. of State Lands, 1978, Preliminary environmental review for the proposed granting of an underground mining permit to Beartooth Coal Company, Incorporated, for the reopening of an underground coal mine in the area of Bearcreek, Carbon County, Montana. July 10, 1978.
- Pylypec, B. 1991. Impacts of fire on bird populations in a fescue prairie. Canadian Field Naturalist 105: 346-349.
- Saab, V.A. and T.D. Rich. 1997. Large-scale conservation assessment for neotropical migratory land birds in the interior Columbia River Basin. T. M. Quigley, ed. USDA F.S., Pacific NW Research Station. Portland, OR. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-399. 56 pp.
- Sibley, D. 2014. The Sibley guide to birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY. 598 pp.
- Skaar, P.D. 1969. Birds of the Bozeman latilong: a compilation of data concerning the birds which occur between 45 and 46 N. latitude and 111 and 112 W. longitude, with current lists for Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, impinging Montana counties and Yellowstone National Park. Bozeman, MT. 132 p.
- Stewart, R.E. 1975. Breeding birds of North Dakota. Tri-College Center for Environmental Studies, Fargo, North Dakota. 295 pp.
- Sullivan, Daniel, 1982, Bait stations as a means of rodenticide presentation to control Columbian ground squirrrels. Technical Rep. 82-3. Sept. 1982.
- U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
- VTN Environmental Sciences, Sheridan, Wyoming for Montana Dept. of State Lands, 1973, Environmental Analysis Decker Coal Company Mine, Decker, Montana.
- Waage, Bruce C., compiler., 1984, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Rosebud County, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1983 Field Season. June 1984.
- Waage, Bruce C., compiler., 1985, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Rosebud County, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1984 Field Season. October 1985.
- Walcheck, Kenneth C., 1999, The Lewis & Clark Expedition: Montana's first bird inventory through the eyes of Lewis and Clark.
- Western Energy Co., Colstrip, MT., 1982, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Report, 1982.
- Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Crackerbox Creek, Glendive, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.022. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
- Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Stillwater River, Absarokee, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.032. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
- Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Wigeon Reservoir, Alzada, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.028. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
- Wiens, J.A. and J.T. Rotenberry. 1981. Habitat associations and community structure of birds in shrubsteppe environments. Ecological Monographs 51: 21-41.
- Zackheim, Karen, 1973?, Exhibit H: Wildlife Study. In Ash Grove Cement Co. files.