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Anne Elliott
Sturnella neglecta
© All Rights Reserved
early summer
Southern Alberta
Family: Icteridae
Western Meadowark
© Anne Elliott 2017
side view
fence post
wooden post
1 July 2017

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Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark
Wow, "Western Montana rattled by strong earthquake (5.8, after midnight last night) felt as far north as Calgary." I hope there will be no aftershocks this weekend, as I will be much closer to it!


This is just one of the many Meadowlarks that friend, Pam, and I saw along the dusty back roads in Southern Alberta five days ago. Most of them flew as soon as they saw the car, but eventually, I managed to get a few shots of this beauty. We also saw so many Horned Larks, including on fence posts, though those were even more difficult to photograph.

"The buoyant, flutelike melody of the Western Meadowlark ringing out across a field can brighten anyone’s day. Meadowlarks are often more easily heard than seen, unless you spot a male singing from a fence post. This colorful member of the blackbird family flashes a vibrant yellow breast crossed by a distinctive, black, V-shaped band. Look and listen for these stout ground feeders in grasslands, meadows, pastures, and along marsh edges throughout the West and Midwest, where flocks strut and feed on seeds and insects." From AllAboutBirds.


Canada Day, 1 July 2017, was a great day. I picked up Pam just after 8:00 am and did a long drive in Southern Alberta. We saw our target bird - a Common Nighthawk, and all sorts of other things including plants, wildlife, and old barns. It took a round trip of 414 km to get the Nighthawks, but it was so worth it! Much further than I normally drive. Towards the end of our day, the rain arrived, accompanied by lightning streaks. This couldn't have been timed more perfectly, to wash off a lot of the dust that covered my car after 12 hours of driving hot, dusty roads! So welcome! We have another hot day today and the forecast is for very hot days (in the low 30Cs) for at least the next few days.

It was such a thrill to see a Common Nighthawk / Chordeiles minor (a rather strange looking bird), as I had always wanted to see one actually lying on a fence post or wooden railing. People get such amazing photos of them like that, and that is what I was determined to find this summer. Last year, I had driven to this area in Southern Alberta, hoping to find one, but had been out of luck. Most of the Nighthawk photos I took four days ago were of Nighthawks lying on metal railings, but I was still thrilled to bits. We saw four individuals, together, and one was on a fence post - not the best angle, but it was still nice to see a fence post perch. How close we came to missing them! I said I wanted to just check the first part of a small side road first, before continuing on the road we were on - and there they were! I had seen a nighthawk on maybe five different occasions over the years, but most were in flight and one was perched very high up in a tree. For Pam, this was the first time she had ever seen one, and she was so happy to see this lifer.

I was so tired after driving such a long distance and it was a hot day - the temperature got up to 30C. I so rarely do such a long drive, and I've barely driven all winter and spring. It felt so good to actually get out on a long drive like this, and we saw all sorts of interesting things that we just had to stop and photograph - of course!

Every single time I go out with my camera for a drive, I never forget to be SO thankful to live in a country where I have the freedom and safety to go where I want, and to see such beauty. Thank you, Alberta and Albertans - and Happy 150th Birthday, Canada! Such a young country.

 Rudy Bernardus
Rudy Bernardus
Heel mooi
2 years ago.

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