Meadowlark Pilfers Chicken Feed

This beautiful western meadowlark has been poking around the chicken house down at the hangar barn lately. The chickens sloppily kick up feed behind them when they scratch the ground — kind of like a dog will spray dirt behind itself when digging. This sends seed out of their house onto the floor of the barn. All kinds of birds will opportunistically pilfer chicken scratch this way. These include doves, chickadees, sparrows, and swallows. When not mooching from the chickens, meadowlarks forage on the ground for insects and seeds. They often use their pointy bills to probe the ground.

Most meadowlarks are chubby and about the size of a robin. You can spot them pretty easily owing to the black “V” shape on their breast surrounded by bright yellow feathers at the underbelly. Their heads have alternating stripes of black and brown with white and black accents on their flank.

Central Texas sits on the edge of the birds’ year-round and wintering range, making them fairly easy to spot all the time here. You see them flocking in grasslands, pastures and prairies. Females build nests right on the ground, but unlike killdeer that lay eggs out in the open, meadowlarks hide them under grasses. Nests often have a roof-like top covering a small, cup-shaped cradle. They have a pleasant warble-like song and are a real pleasure to see — especially with that yellow underbelly flashing as they fly or scoot along looking for food.

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