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The Western Meadowlark, a large stocky bird with a short tail, is the official state bird of Wyoming. This bird has a yellow throat, chest and belly and brown back, with a black “V” across the chest. It is abundant throughout the western part of North America and is well known for its melodic song, which has a distinct seven to 10 note flute-like quality. The Western Meadowlark is in the same family as orioles and blackbirds.
The state bird of Wyoming is an open-country bird. It lives in grasslands, agricultural areas, prairies, and shrub-steppe areas. It rarely migrates during the winter, instead preferring to seek sheltered areas in fields and wetlands. In some parts of the country, the Western Meadowlark’s range overlaps with that of the Eastern Meadowlark and the Western Meadowlark defends its territory against its eastern counterpart.
The male Western Meadowlark typically has two mates at a time. During mating, the male chases the females in a "chase display" flying formation, with the females determine the speed of the chase. After mating, the female does all the incubation of the eggs and handles the majority of the feeding duties. In rare cases where this state bird of Wyoming breeds with its eastern counterpart, the eggs produced are usually not viable.
After breeding, the female builds her nest on the ground, typically under dense vegetation or in small hollows, such as those created by a cow footprint. The nests are grass domes with side entries, and are often woven into nearby plants or grasses. In a typical breeding cycle, the females lay between four and six eggs, which take approximately two weeks to hatch. The young Western Meadowlark leaves the next before it can even fly properly, about 10 to 12 days after hatching. Females may raise two broods in each mating season.
Those hoping to attract the state bird of Wyoming to their bird feeders may have a difficult time, as the Western Meadowlark is not a common backyard bird. They are more likely to visit rural and agricultural areas. Making the backyard more inviting to the bird by providing plenty of areas to perch and an abundant supply of grass seeds may increase the likelihood of a visit from the Western Meadowlark.
The Western Meadowlark became the official state bird of Wyoming in 1927. It is also the official state bird of Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, and North Dakota. Although the Western Meadowlark is abundant throughout its region and not currently a conservation concern, its numbers are slowly starting to decline.