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2011-11-28
Colorado State Bird – Lark Bunting - Calamospiza melanocorys


The Lark Bunting - Calamospiza melanocorys - is a medium-sized sparrow and is the state bird of Colorado. Flocks of these birds migrate to southern Texas and Mexico.

Description

The adult breeding male has mostly black plumage, with striking white patch on the wing. Non-breeding males have black elements of plumage replaced by streaked gray-brown on upperparts. The underparts are whitish with bold dark streaks. Adult females are similar to the s non-breeding male, but plumage is paler overall and white on wing is restricted to less distinct patch formed by white edges to greater covert feathers. Note also the bold dark line bordering the pale throat. Young birds are similar to adult females, but with less distinct markings.

Call

The song consists of a mix of whistles and trills. The call is a soft hoo.

Food

They forage on the ground, mainly eating insects in summer and seeds in winter; they sometimes take short flights in pursuit of insects. Outside of the nesting season, they often feed in flocks. Primarily feeds on insects during the summer months.  Seeds and waste grain become the primary food item during the winter months.

Breeding

Their breeding habitat is the prairie regions in central Canada and the mid-western United States. The male bird performs a spectacular courtship flight, during which he warbles and trills a distinctive mating song. The nest is an open cup on the ground in a grassy area. The birds typically nest in dispersed colonies.

Conservation Status – Least Concern

Populations are reduced from historical levels.  Still common in areas, but habitat loss is behind declines in recent decades.

Birdwatching

Can be found in a wide variety of open habitats during migration and in winter.

 


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