The differences between juvenile and adult Western Meadowlarks often go unrecognized by observers in the field but when you see them up close through a lens those differences become striking.
1/4000, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in
Three days ago my first trip to Antelope Island after the fire was mostly a bust for bird photography. Except for the weasel I photographed as I left the island this young Western Meadowlark was my only cooperative subject. This bird seems to be quite young and probably very recently fledged. I like to photograph birds in all stages of development and plumage conditions so I was happy to get this image taken soon after the bird lifted off from sagebrush.
I like the takeoff posture, the position of those large feet and legs, the light on the bird overall, the clean, slightly wispy background and the excellent eye contact.
From a distance this bird would appear to many to be “just” another adult meadowlark in sage but notice that it lacks the black V-shaped band on the breast and the vibrant colors and bold face pattern of the adult. And to my eye its plumage appears to have a soft, silky appearance that I don’t see in adults.
1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM + 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in
Here’s an adult in a similar pose for contrast. Up close like this I think the differences between adult and young juvenile are striking.
John James Audubon gave the Western Meadowlark its scientific name, Sturnella neglecta – neglecta because he thought early settlers and explorers had overlooked this common bird and Sturnella because of its similarity to starlings. I’m not fond of that comparison because I’ve never been a big fan of starlings and that opinion was reinforced last week when a young starling fell down the vent of the furnace in my home and ended up in the ductwork. Its claws on the ductwork sounded like there was an angry Tasmanian Devil caught in the furnace and I spent half of a day tearing the furnace apart to get it out. I was not a happy camper.
But in the end I released the starling (minus all of its tail feathers) and it flew off to cause more mischief.
Note: My disparagement of starlings was mostly tongue in cheek – after all it’s not their fault they’re here…