Today’s photograph is of a Western Meadowlark that I photographed near the auto tour road located at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma.

Western Meadowlark In Winter Plumage At Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

Western Meadowlark In Winter Plumage At Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

A few years ago, I discovered that the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge is home to both the Western Meadowlark and the Eastern Meadowlark. Now, whenever I photograph a Meadowlark at this refuge, I always double-check with someone (Thanks Mia) to ensure I correctly identify the species.

Although the Western Meadowlark and the Eastern Meadowlark share similar physical features, they can be distinguished by several key characteristics. The most noticeable difference is their unique songs – the Eastern Meadowlark’s song is a buzzy “dzert”, while the Western Meadowlark’s song is a low chuck or cluck like a blackbird. In terms of visual differences, the Western Meadowlark has a mostly white (not yellow) mustache stripe and paler coloring than the Eastern Meadowlark. The Eastern Meadowlark, on the other hand, has a white malar region as opposed to yellow. Additionally, thinner lines of black on the folded wing feathers and tail feathers distinguish the Western Meadowlark. Although the two species are closely related, they rarely hybridize, and mixed pairs usually occur only at the edge of their ranges.

Note: What does “dzert” mean?

The term “dzert” refers to a specific call note of the Eastern Meadowlark, which is a bird species. This call note is innate rather than learned and is more reliable than the song as an identifying characteristic. The Eastern Meadowlark gives a single, sharp “dzert” note when humans or other meadowlarks intrude on their territory. (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/)

Here is a photo I took of an Eastern Meadowlark but in Arkansas:

Eastern Meadowlark | Breeding Plumage | Arkansas

Eastern Meadowlark | Breeding Plumage | Arkansas

Image Information (First Image):

  • Date: 12/03/23
  • Time: 10:42 AM
  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: Canon RF 800mm F11
  • ISO: 1250
  • Aperture: 11
  • Shutter: 1/2000
  • Exp. Comp.: 0
  • Lens (mm): 800
  • Program Mode: Manual