Meadow Lark, a starling, of the American genus sturnella (Vieillot). The body is thick and stout, the legs large, with hind toes reaching beyond the tail, which is short, even, and of narrow pointed feathers; the bill is nearly straight, and three times as long as high; inner lateral toe longer than the outer; hind claw nearly twice as long as the middle; feathers of head stiffened, the shafts above extended into a black bristle. The common species (S. magna, Swains.) is about 11 in. long, with an extent of wing of 16, and the bill 1 1/3 in.; the color above is dark brown, each feather with a brownish white margin and a pale reddish brown terminal spot; wings and tail with dark brown bars; yellow beneath, with a black pectoral crescent; sides, rump, and tibia; pale reddish brown, with blackish streaks; a light median and superciliary stripe, yellow in front of the eye, and a black line behind. It is found in the eastern United States to the high central plains, extending perhaps as far south as Mexico. It is abundant in the southern states in the winter, whence it proceeds northward as far as Maine to breed, returning in the autumn in small flocks; the flight is generally short, unsteady, and at a moderate elevation; the notes at early morning are loud and melodious.

The males are very pugnacious in breeding time; the nest is made of grasses in a hollow of the ground, and is covered over like an oven; both sexes incubate; the eggs, four or five, arc-white, with reddish brown spots at the larger end; the young are hatched about the end of June in the middle states. The meadow lark is the friend of the farmer in its destruction of injurious larva?, but it sometimes pulls up the young corn, grain, and rice; it occasionally kills small birds, especially in confinement. In autumn and winter meadow larks are fat, and are sought by sportsmen; the flesh of the young is esteemed as food. On the Pacific coast is found a variety nearly resembling the other, but rather paler in tint, with the yellow on the chin and throat extending on the sides of the lower jaw. This bird is related to the starlings of Europe, of the genus sturnus (Linn).

Meadow Lark (Sturnella magna).

Meadow Lark (Sturnella magna).