Chihuahuan Meadowlark Sturnella lilianae Scientific name definitions
Version: 1.0 — Published October 25, 2022
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Species names in all available languages
|Dutch||Witkaakweidespreeuw (lilianae groep)|
|English (United States)||Chihuahuan Meadowlark|
|French||Sturnelle de Lilian|
|French (French Guiana)||Sturnelle de Lilian|
|Polish||wojak obrożny [gr. lilianae]|
|Serbian||Čihuahuanska livadska ševa|
|Spanish (Mexico)||Pradero Altiplanero|
|Spanish (Spain)||Pradero chihuahuense|
Johanna K. Beam drafted the account. Peter Pyle contributed to the Plumages, Molts, and Structure page. Arnau Bonan Barfull curated the media. Jessica Kane updated the distribution map.
Sturnella lilianae Oberholser, 1930
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In 2022, Chihuahuan Meadowlark was split from Eastern Meadowlark in a long-anticipated move that may open doors for the other subspecies of Eastern Meadowlark that have also been thought to be distinct (e.g. Cuban Meadowlark, Sturnella magna hippocrepis).
It differs from both other Sturnella species by having four white outer rectrices, pale off-white sides where the streaking rarely touches the saffron yellow of the breast, and a pale, almost sunbleached look to the mantle. The auriculars of Chihuahuan Meadowlark are clean with little-to-no streaking, adding to the overall pale appearance of the bird. The aforementioned side streaking is more similar to polka dots than streaking - dark brown, short, thin, interrupted lines or dots mark the sides of the breast, in contrast to the thicker, bolder lines of Eastern Meadowlark birds.
The Chihuahuan Meadowlark breeds throughout the desert grasslands of Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, northern Sonora and Chihuahua (S. lilianae lilianae), and in the lowlands from Puerto Vallarta to Mexico City (S. l. auropectoralis). There are a few breeding records in southeast Colorado as well, however more study is needed on the status of this population. Unlike its well-studied counterparts, very little of Chihuahuan Meadowlark's biology is known - we can only assume that it has similar breeding biology, migration patterns, and behavior to other meadowlarks until it is studied.
The Chihuahuan Meadowlark is not a lark (Family Alaudidae) but is related instead to New World blackbirds and troupials (Family Icteridae).