The State Bird of Nebraska is the Western Meadowlark. This bird was designated as the state bird in 1929, after a statewide vote conducted by the Nebraska Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Appearance and Habitat
The Western Meadowlark has a striking appearance with its bright yellow belly and black V-shaped bib on its chest. It measures around nine inches in length and weighs about two to three ounces. They have brownish upperparts with black streaks, which help them blend into their grassland habitat.
Western Meadowlarks can be found throughout North America, but they are most commonly found in rural areas of the Great Plains region, including Nebraska. These birds prefer open fields or prairies that offer plenty of insects to feed on.
These birds are known for their sweet-sounding songs that can often be heard before seeing them. They also have an interesting behavior when it comes to defending their territory. When threatened by other males during breeding season, male meadowlarks will engage in “song battles” where each bird will try to sing louder than the other to establish dominance over his territory.
During nesting season (March through July), females build nests on or near the ground using grasses and other plant materials. The average clutch size is four eggs per nest, though larger clutches may occur if food is abundant.
While still common across much of its range, populations of Western Meadowlarks have been declining due to habitat loss from agricultural expansion and urbanization. According to Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report (2014), there is potential for a significant decrease in suitable climate space for this species over time due to changing temperatures and rainfall patterns.
Luckily, conservation groups like Audubon Nebraska are working hard to protect grassland habitats where these birds thrive through land management practices such as prescribed burning and planting native grasses. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission also encourages landowners to participate in conservation easements, which provide financial incentives for preserving grasslands.
The Western Meadowlark is a beautiful bird that has become a beloved symbol of the state of Nebraska. Its unique appearance, sweet song, and interesting behavior make it a favorite among birdwatchers across North America. It is important that we continue to take steps to protect these birds and their habitats through sustainable land management practices and conservation efforts.