The western and easter meadowlark are considered almost identical birds. Meaning they share a lot of similarities with each other and look the same. However, these two bird species are officially two different species which means they also have some differences.
In this article, we compare the difference between western vs eastern meadowlark. Although it can be difficult to distinguish between the two birds, there are some vocal and visual features that are obvious and can be distinguished between the two birds. Please check our list below.
|Features||Western Meadowlark||Eastern Meadowlark|
|Vocals||Long and flute-like||Clear and Melodic Whistle|
|Malar Region||Yellowish||Whitish Stripes|
|Tails||Pale Tails with Thinner Barring||With Dark Portion and Thicker Barring|
|Habitat||Eastern Boarder and Pacific Coast||Southeast. Midwest. Canada, Atlantic Coast|
|Backyard Habit||Rarely Visit Backyard||Frequent Backyard Visitor|
The eastern and western meadowlark are almost identical in terms of their physical features. In fact, to differentiate between the two, one must use binoculars to look for differences in the body and the other physical features.
In general, meadowlarks are stocky with short tails while having yellow throats, bellies, and a black V across their chests. However, the western meadowlarks also come with yellow mustached stripes beside their throats, while the eastern meadowlarks come with white mustached stripes.
The most obvious difference is in the malar region, which is the area of the sides of the bird’s head located behind and below their eyes. You will find a yellowish malar region for the western meadowlark, while the eastern meadowlarks come with buff and whitish malar stripes.
You can also differentiate between the two birds when you take a closer look at their tails. The western meadowlarks come with paler tails along with thinner barring. On the other hand, the eastern meadowlarks come with dark centers on their tails and thicker barring on the tail feathers.
Also, the tail of the western meadowlarks usually comes with a lot of variations, but the center is much lighter compared to the eastern meadowlarks. It is also worth noting the dark central portion of the feather and the thick bars of the eastern meadowlarks.
Overall, the physical appearance of these two birds is entirely different. The western meadowlarks tend to be paler than the eastern meadowlarks. This appearance is the result of the thinner lines of the blacked-colored folded wing feathers.
You can also differentiate these two birds by the call or vocals they made. The eastern meadowlark comes with a clear, melodic whistle, while the western meadowlark’s song tends to be long and flute-like.
The eastern meadowlarks usually produce sweet and lazy whistles in grasslands and farms. The male eastern meadowlarks have been discovered to sing different variations of their songs. In fact, it is said that the birds can sing up to 100 different patterns of the song.
Meanwhile, the western meadowlarks produces a buoyant and flutelike melody that can be heard across a field. They say that a western meadowlark is easily seen and recognized by the sounds that they produce instead of seeing them directly.
It would be best if you also took note that eastern and western meadowlarks only recognize the songs of their species. This situation means that the songs produced by eastern meadowlarks are not recognized by their western counterparts and vice versa.
You can also tell the difference between these birds from the region in that they are observed. The western meadowlarks are found from the eastern border of the plains and prairies to the pacific coast. On the other hand, the eastern meadowlarks live in the southwest and eastward from the prairies of the Midwest and Canada to the Atlantic Coast.
Experts have discovered that the eastern and western meadowlark ranges sometimes overlap in Central America. But what is impressive is that these two bird species refuse to share territories.
Since they sing totally different songs and do not recognize the songs that they produce, the sounds cannot be used in their communication. This situation often results in the two species fighting each other when it comes to claiming territories.
You can also differentiate between these two birds by the way they visit a backyard of a birder. The western meadowlark is not considered a regular feeder visitor. Although they sometimes visit feeding stations in open habitats.
In addition, the western meadowlark may visit your backyard and come in the feeder if you offer foods that they like. But it is very rare that they visit the bird feeder. On the other hand, eastern meadowlark often comes into the backyard, especially if the right food is put in the bird feeder.
The male western meadowlarks are considered monogamous by nature, but they do not mate for life. On the other hand, a male eastern meadowlark typically has two mates at a time. Although some have three mates, it is rare.
Although these two bird species are almost identical, it is very rare that these two birds mate and produce a hybrid bird. It usually occurs at the edge of their respective ranges but rarely happens. When it happens, it is probably because few mates are available.
Comparing western vs eastern meadowlark can be challenging because they are almost identical. Experts said you need binoculars to see the difference between these two bird species clearly. However, these birds can also be differentiated by their songs and the location where they are usually observed. If you want to learn more about other birds, we also have a guide for Wood and Hermit Thrush.