Saw a new-to-me bird in the park yesterday. Three or four of them walked and did short flitterings on the big lawn just north of the parking circle at the end of Spinnaker Way. Their backside looked a bit like the abundant White-crowned Sparrow, and the stripes on the head also suggested that bird. But these birds were bigger, about the size of a robin, and chunkier, with less of a neck, and as I got a better view of their long, sharp bill, it was very obvious that these could not be overweight sparrows. The touches of yellow on the cheek and the longish pink legs confirmed that these were different. Being a bird idiot, I had to go to the web after I got home to identify them. BirdID, the app that I’ve relied on in the recent past, is unfortunately out of service at the moment, so I had to go the more laborious route of entering color, size, bill shape etc. to get a solid identification. This is a Western Meadowlark. Audubon.org says they’re widespread and common, but these are the first I’ve seen in the park. They belong to the blackbird and oriole family. They eat insects and seeds, mostly insects in summer, seeds in winter. They nest in the grass, but hopefully they know enough to avoid areas that regularly get mowed. I hope to see them more often.
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