Eastern Meadowlarks, 1/25/15

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~One of three Eastern Meadowlarks at the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge, 1/25/15.~

I was pleasantly surprised when three Eastern Meadowlarks landed and perched in the tree in front of the north blind at Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge. I knew that there were some meadowlarks present at the refuge this winter because I’ve caught fleeting glimpses a couple of times this January. But this was not a quick look, the birds perched in the tree for a little while and then dropped into the grasses in front of the blind to feed. Before any of the meadowlarks gave me a clear shot for a photo, a female Northern Harrier flushed the birds and they relocated to a tree behind the blind. Again, they dropped down from the tree to forage through the grasses behind the blind which were not as thick as they were in front, allowing me to get some photos.

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~I wonder if the new snowfall allowed these birds to reach where they couldn’t before? EAME at the Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, 1/25/15.~

I looked at the range maps in the Crossley Guide, Sibley Field Guide, and on the All About Birds website. Both the Sibley and All About Birds range maps include Ulster County, New York as part of the year round range for Eastern Meadowlarks, while the Crossley Guide has it just as “typical breeding range” but not very far from the year round range. According to the Stokes Guide to Bird Behavior II, Eastern Meadowlarks gather into flocks in the late summer after breeding. Some flocks move southward while others remain to winter and “forage in old fields of corn, stubble, and weeds. At night they roost together, often in the tall grasses of marshes. Occasionally they join with grackles to roost”.

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~An Eastern Meadowlark perches briefly at the Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, 1/25/15.~

As much as I love to go to the grasslands for the raptors in the winter, the meadowlarks were a wonderful surprise for me this morning. There was plenty of raptor activity as well (Rough-legged Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrel, Northern Harriers, Black Vultures), and I will prepare a post for them in the next day or so.

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~I was happy to get some photos that were pretty much in focus, it was tough with all the vegetation. Eastern Meadowlark at the Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, 1/25/15.~
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~Tough to catch these birds in flight. EAME at the Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, 1/25/15.~
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~Eastern Meadowlark at the Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, 1/25/15.~

13 thoughts on “Eastern Meadowlarks, 1/25/15”

    1. Thanks Ralph. It looks like Tuesday might be a snow day, that will be a good day for me to put together that post. Great to see you this morning. Matt

    1. Glad you are enjoying them, Ralph. Folks seem to have had a good reaction to those photos. Good to hear they were around this afternoon. Matt

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