The lark bunting, or Calamospiza melanocorys, is the state bird of Colorado. It is a medium-sized bird, and like many other species of birds, the mature male is much more recognizable than the female. Although it is mainly black, it has a bright white patch on its wing. In the winter, however, this plumage is replaced by more inconspicuous feathers.
The state bird of Colorado is a type of sparrow. It belongs to the Emberizidae family. In the spring of 1931, the lark bunting was adopted as the official Colorado state bird.
Male lark buntings are somewhat easy to recognize. They are around 6 inches (15 centimeters) long. Generally, the females are a little smaller than the males, and they have less conspicuous plumage in the summer.
Mature males typically have black feathers in the spring and summer, during the breeding season. They also typically have a bright white patch of feathers on their wings as well. During the fall, these feathers start to change to their winter plumage, which is much more drab.
In the winter, males are mostly brown. Their backs, heads, and wings are brown for instance. Chests and underparts, however, are white or light tan. Dark brown or black streaks are also often seen on their backs and sides. Sometimes, a white patch can be seen on the wings as well.
The female state bird of Colorado looks very similar to the male in the winter. Immature males are also brown with dark streaks. Hatchlings are usually covered in soft gray down.
Nests of the state bird of Colorado are typically found on the ground. Many times, they will be built underneath shrubs. Lark buntings are also typically ground foragers. During warm months, they often prefer to eat insects, but they also eat seeds as well. Occasionally, these birds will also pursue insects, snapping them up in mid-flight.
During the summer, the state bird of Colorado can be found in prairies in many parts of the Midwestern United States. They can also be found in some southern parts of Canada. In the fall, large flocks of the state bird of Colorado will fly south. It will then spend the winter in Mexico and return to the breeding grounds in the spring.
Males usually return to the breeding grounds before the females. During their courtship ritual, several males will fly straight up into the air before gliding back down. While in flight, they will also sing a characteristic courtship song.