Chihuahuan Meadowlark Sturnella lilianae Scientific name definitions

Johanna K. Beam, Levi A. Jaster, William E. Jensen, and Wesley E. Lanyon
Version: 1.0 — Published October 25, 2022



Walking, Running, Hopping, Climbing, etc.

Foraging birds walk or run on ground. When approaching nest, birds walk more stealthily with the body held closer to ground.


Flies with alternating periods of gliding with wings held stiff and periods of rapid, shallow wingbeats.


Self-maintenance behaviors have not been studied in Chihuahuan Meadowlark, but are presumably similar to other meadowlarks.

Agonistic Behavior

Interactions and territoriality have not been studied in Chihuahuan Meadowlark, but they are presumably similar to Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) and Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta).

Physical and Communicative Interactions

In other meadowlarks, males chase competing males away from their territory and fight with trespassing males. During territory disputes,Eastern Meadowlark males will sing at each other, perform posturing displays that include wing and tail flashing, and puff out their feathers to increase their body size (37). Female Eastern Meadowlark may perform similar posturing displays to their mates (37).

Territorial Behavior

In the similar Eastern Meadowlark, males establish and defend territories until the young fledge the nest, and use the territories for foraging, mating, and rearing young (37).

More information needed on territoriality when sympatric with Western Meadowlark. Lanyon (21) suggests that Chihuahuan Meadowlark and Western Meadowlark rarely breed in close proximity to each other.

Sexual Behavior

There are no detailed studies of sexual behavior in Chihuahuan Meadowlark, however one can presume it shares many behaviors with Eastern Meadowlark and Western Meadowlark.

Mating System and Operational Sex Ratio

The closely related Eastern Meadowlark and Western Meadowlark have 1-3 concurrent mates that nest within the single male's territory (41, 42).

Courtship, Copulation, and Pair Bond

In other meadowlarks, pair selection happens soon after females arrive to the territories and the pairs stay together while finding a nesting site and during foraging. Pairs remain together until the end of the nesting period (37). Displays involve aerial chases, posturing, and puffed plumage prior to copulation (37). Copulation only occurs within a male's territory, male strutting around a receptive female, mounting the female with aggressive wing-flapping, and dismounting before the female resumes foraging (37).

Extra-Pair Mating Behavior/Paternity

Information needed.

Social and Interspecific Behavior

Sociality has not been studied in Chihuahuan Meadowlark, however Eastern Meadowlark forms loose winter flocks until the following breeding season (43). More study is needed to see if wintering flocks of Chihuahuan Meadowlark include Western Meadowlark.


Information needed.

Recommended Citation

Beam, J. K., L. A. Jaster, W. E. Jensen, and W. E. Lanyon (2022). Chihuahuan Meadowlark (Sturnella lilianae), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (N. D. Sly, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.lilmea2.01