eastern meadowlarks around Flagstaff?
13 Jan 2018, 1:43 PM,
#1
eastern meadowlarks around Flagstaff?
Hi,
I was just at the Walnut Canyon Ponds, and came across a group of about 8 meadowlarks in the field near the north end of the ponds. When they flew, they had extensive white in their tails, with brown central tail feathers. Unfortunately I hadn't brought my field guide with me, but when I got home I checked my Sibley, which suggests they were eastern.  How common are they around Flag, and how reliable is the mostly white tail as an indicator of eastern vs. western?

Thanks
Brian
bhealyphoto@gmail.com
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13 Jan 2018, 4:42 PM,
#2
RE: eastern meadowlarks around Flagstaff?
Hi Brian, I'm hardly an expert, but I do try to figure them out whenever I get a decent look. Jason once mentioned that the Lilian's Eastern Meadowlark has enough white tail feathers that the brown patch in the center looks square or rectangular, whereas in the Western the brown patch looks more wedge shaped. That has seemed pretty reliable to me. I think I had one of each on Buffalo Range road today. I initially ID'd them by my perception of how much white was in the tails, and when I got home I looked at my photos. Their facial patterns seemed to correspond with what I came up based on their tails. As far as how common they are, I know there were several Lilian's Eastern's at Kachina Wetlands relatively recently.
Tom
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13 Jan 2018, 7:06 PM,
#3
RE: eastern meadowlarks around Flagstaff?
Thanks Tom! Sounds consistent with Eastern to me.
Brian
bhealyphoto@gmail.com
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14 Jan 2018, 6:54 AM,
#4
RE: eastern meadowlarks around Flagstaff?
Brian,
I would be cautious about basing an ID on an impression of a lot of white in the tail. Westerns can give this impression as well. The trick that Tom mentioned - to focus the shape created by the central tail feathers - works well, but takes practice. The best way to do this is to look carefully at birds that you've ID'd by voice, which is by far the most distinctive feature of Eastern versus Western Meadowlarks.
Eastern Meadowlarks have been increasing in numbers all around the city at lower elevations. I'm a little surprised that they would be here in town, but anything is possible.

Jason
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14 Jan 2018, 7:43 AM,
#5
RE: eastern meadowlarks around Flagstaff?
Thanks for the input! Maybe I should just leave it as "eastern/western." Maybe they're still around and someone else will get a better look.

Thanks again!
Brian
bhealyphoto@gmail.com
Reply


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