western-meadowlark-hhGeorgia depression population (Sturnella neglecta)

The western meadowlark is abundant across grasslands of North America, but it appears to have been extirpated from the Georgia Depression area (southeastern Vancouver Island, Vancouver and Olympic Peninsula). The birds bred regularly in this area until the 1940s, and occasional vagrants are still seen on the island, but no breeding has been recorded since the 1970s. Habitat loss to urbanization and increased agricultural activity is believed to be responsible for their disappearance

Western meadowlarks are a member of the blackbird family. They are about 23 cm long, with a brown, white and black speckled back and a bright yellow breast. They have a distinctive flute-like song. Western meadowlarks nest on the ground, and eat invertebrates (such as beetles, weevils, wireworms, cutworms, grasshoppers and crickets), as well as seeds. Like the vesper sparrow, horned lark and western bluebird, the western meadowlark relied upon Garry oak meadow ecosystems in this region, and is a casualty of their widespread loss and damage.

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© Image courtesy of Doug Greenberg

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