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



Has not been studied in detail. In Arizona it is reported to breed primarily following the summer monsoons, with nests with eggs found 16 July – 5 August, and late July considered peak (44). It may breed earlier in Arizona and elsewhere, as in New Mexico where young have been reported on 10 May (45). In Sonora, singing is heard most often from January through summer, with sporadic singing in other times, suggesting an earlier breeding season (46).

Nest Site

Site Characteristics

It nests on the ground in grasslands and builds a nest hidden below tall grass and other vegetative cover (44).


Construction Process

A shallow depression may be scratched out at the nest site, leaving part of the nest sunk into the ground (44). Otherwise, nest construction has not been studied. In other meadowlarks, females chose the site and build the nest (37).

Structure and Composition

A cup nest on the ground, described as a "sunken retortlike home of long hay" (44). The nest is made of dried grass and has a dome shaped cover (44, 45).


Information needed. Other meadowlark nests have an exterior diameter of 14–21 cm (39).


Information needed.

Maintenance or Reuse of Nests

Information needed.



Has not been studied, but likely similar to other meadowlarks which have an ovate shape (6).


Has not been studied, presumably similar to that of other meadowlark species with length between 21–31 mm and breadth between 18–22 mm (6, 47).


Information needed.

Eggshell Thickness

Information needed.

Color and Surface Texture

White, speckled brownish or purplish (45), similar to other meadowlarks.

Clutch Size

4–6 in New Mexico (45).

Egg Laying

Has not been studied. Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) and Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) lay single eggs in the morning on consecutive days (37).


Has not been studied. In other meadowlarks, only females incubate the eggs, and the incubation period lasts 13-16 days (37).


Has not been studied, but likely similar to other meadowlarks where young hatch on the same day without parental assistance (39).

Young Birds

Condition at Hatching

Has not been studied. Other meadowlarks have altricial young with sparse feathering at hatching and weigh between 5–7 g (6, 42).

Growth and Development

Has not been studied. The general development of Eastern Meadowlark and Western Meadowlark has the eyes open on day 5, wings start moving on day 5, pin feathers break on day 6, fledging by day 10-12 despite not fully emerged flight feathers, and capable of sustained flight by day 21 (39).

Parental Care


Has not been studied, however likely similar to Eastern Meadowlark and Western Meadowlark where female broods alone with infrequent food deliveries from the male (37).


Has not been studied. Presumably Chihuahuan Meadowlark young are fed insects, similar to other meadowlark young (41, 37).

Nest Sanitation

Has not been studied, but likely similar to other meadowlarks where fecal sacs are removed and dropped far from the nest (37).

Cooperative Breeding

Not reported.

Brood Parasitism by Other Species

Has not been studied. Cowbirds (Molothrus) parasitize other meadowlarks, and may act as a brood parasite to Chihuahuan Meadowlark, but this is unconfirmed (37, 48).

Fledgling Stage

Has not been studied. In other meadowlarks, fledglings are not capable of sustained flight until day 21, and continue to be dependent on parents for weeks after fledging the nest (37).

Immature Stage

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