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



Breeding Range

Desert grasslands of central and southeastern Arizona, central New Mexico, and west Texas south to northeastern Sonora and northern Chihuahua. Several breeding records for both southern Colorado and northern Colorado exist (31, 32, 33, 23, JKB personal observation).

Resident in west Mexico from southern Sinaloa, coastal Nayarit, and southern Durango into the Trans-Volcanic belt east to Estado de México. The precise limits between this species and Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) east of Estado de México and south through Oaxaca are undetermined. Birds between Estado de México and the Sierra Madre Oriental, in Tlaxcala and Puebla and adjacent areas, may represent auropectoralis (22) or intergrades with Eastern Meadowlark subspecies (23), but more study is needed.

Nonbreeding Range

Possibly sedentary in much of range, but movements unstudied. Range in Arizona may extend west in winter (34).

Extralimital Records

Casual north to northern Colorado, with possible records as far northeastern as Point Pelee, Ontario based off of two eBird reports (2016: S29203426; 2022: S107988686). Closer inspection of previous Eastern Meadowlark records in the western United States may reveal more Chihuahuan Meadowlark records. More information is needed on vagrancy patterns.

Historical Changes to the Distribution

Chihuahuan Meadowlark has notable northern breeding records in Colorado, hundreds of miles north of its main range in Arizona and New Mexico (23). This could be part of a northern movement for the taxon, but more study is needed. Changes in distribution have probably been overlooked due to the difficult nature of the identification and its previous status as a subspecies.

Distribution of the Chihuahuan Meadowlark - Range Map
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Chihuahuan Meadowlark

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