Western Meadowlark – They Just Can’t Help But Sing

In springtime meadowlarks are at the mercy of their hormones. No matter what they’re doing they often burst into song right in the middle of it.


1/3200, f/7.1, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

Despite the unspring-like conditions this Western Meadowlark was singing its heart out yesterday at Garr Ranch on Antelope Island. The sun was shining but it was only 29° F and there was a freezing wind so I expected most birds to be hunkered down in those conditions. But this one’s spring juices were flowing and it sang almost continuously on top of the fence rail.



1/4000, f/7.1, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

Several times it flew down into the mix of vegetation and snow directly below the fence and foraged for food but even down there it couldn’t resist breaking into song.




1/2500, f/7.1, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

All that singing requires food to fuel it and the meadowlark snagged this spider in the middle of it all.



Yup, it really was a spider and a pretty large one at that. I was a little surprised to learn there are spiders of this size out and about so early in the season.



1/6400, f/7.1, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

To me, birds singing in the snow always seems just a little bit incongruous and meadowlarks seem more inclined to do it than most species. I like the singing shadow in the snow.



1/2500, f/7.1, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

This is probably the same bird a few minutes later as it sang from another nearby post.



This shot shows the fence the meadowlark spent most of its time on. When it was foraging for food and singing in the snow it was in the area marked by the red arrow. Useless information I suppose but I do like to show context when I can.

Naturally the meadowlark turned its back on me when I grabbed my other camera to take this photo.




49 comments to Western Meadowlark – They Just Can’t Help But Sing

  • Elizabeth sawin

    Thanks ever so much, Ron. Such beautiful photos and so needed in these tumultuous times.

  • Jane Chesebrough

    I have never had them stay long enough to get this many shots. It lifts my spirits to see these.Our temps just plunged to -35 celsiu with the wind chill. Blah.

  • Susan Stone

    Nice to see a happy, singing Meadowlark, after driving all day through smoke from the Texas Panhandle fires. I needed something bright and cheery to end my day. Thank you.

  • Joanne O'Brien

    Love that “Singin In The Snow” shot!! He’s really belting it out. All of the photo’s were so enjoyable to look at – thanks!

  • Judy Eberspaecher

    Ron, don’t you feel like this sometimes and just break into song? I hope so anyway.

  • I can think of worse manifestations of hormone overload than song. Much, much worse.
    Thank you for a bright and cheery start to the day.

    • You’re sure right about that, EC!

    • Laura Culley

      LOL EC! While meadowlarks use their evil hormones for good, female redtails and Kestrels do not. They get all snotty and cranky, making life a little more challenging, often requiring bloodletting on the part of their human slaves. Mariah and Skye (AKA The [Already] Evil Princess) are making life a bit of a, dare I say, BITCH? 🙂 Given that Mariah is 25 now, I keep wondering if there will be a menopause with her? Not yet, but I keep hoping!

      • I have to confess that my own hormones have never caused me to break out in song. Which may be a good thing. I have (very occasionally you understand) been a tad terse and a smidge grumpy though. I don’t usually require blood sacrifices though.

  • Laura Culley

    The meadowlark’s song is one of the most profound joys of life. I have a theory that birds taught us clueless humans about music. If there were no birds, I’m not sure we would have figured it out on our own. Just a random thought…and yes, I think about things like this 🙂
    Again, splendid work! I look forward to your blog every day–even when I get behind on emails/notifications. You routinely bring me moments of profound joy, too! Thank YOU!

  • Frank sheets

    Great imagers this am Ron. Thanks again.

  • Den DiMarco

    Got to this post a little late today. I’m sure glad I didn’t miss it! Ron, you have a gift for bringing the beauty and wonder of nature directly to me while I sit in front of my work computer. Thanks so much for the wonderful series, educational commentary and reprieve from work!

  • Marty K

    Mr. Meadowlark must think he’s out here — temps this week peak at 80 tomorrow. A delightful series — even the juicy spider morsel — *hurk!* I like the context shot too. I’m glad you included it. Thinking about him singing away makes me smile and I definitely need that today. 🙂

    • Marty, I should include context shots more often. The trouble with getting them though is that inevitably when I reach for the other camera the bird will choose that moment to demonstrate interesting behavior or take off…

  • Alice Beckcom

    Beautiful series of photos. I can almost hear it singing!!!

  • Patty Chadwick

    Today promises to be cold, wet and dreary…Feeling the same…BUT, then opened your posting and there it was!!! Sunshine and song!!! Everything changed…..decided to get a chocolate donut , some Dunkin Donuts coffee (light),and welcome the coming of Spring–Man’s official start or not….I especially like the 4th, blasting out song from the snow and the 5th, onbthe old post on a sunny, blue-sky day. Thanks, too, for the context picture…and for brightening my dsy…

  • Levi V.

    Great pictures! Really like this series.
    Seems like you guys have had a long winter! Grateful for the warm temps here, but sometimes a little too warm. (117 fahrenheit last summer. And each year is hotter than the last.)
    And that spider is little compared to the ones out here! I’ve seen jumping spiders that size!

  • Charlotte Norton

    Just a marvelous series Ron!


  • Linda

    Meadowlarks always sing right after I pass them when I’m riding my bike. I don’t know if it’s a delayed greeting or a “good riddance” but I do love their song. Thanks for an enticement of the season to come.

    • Linda, you’d love it on Antelope Island a little later in the spring and early summer. Meadowlarks seem to be everywhere and their combined songs literally bounce of the hills. I sometimes stop my pickup’s engine and get out just to listen to them for a while.

  • Truly beautiful shots of the meadowlark, Ron. A pleasure to see this morning!

  • D.Gusset

    I love how birds knowthat it’s spring (regardless of the weather), just by the lengthening days.
    Here in Nova Scotia, we have had very little snow this year, but when the sun came out after a big blizzard two weeks ago, the birds seemed oblivious and sang away like it was a beautiful spring day !

  • Beautiful. Love the one in the snow!
    I wonder if the ticks are out.
    They always turn their backs on me. So frustrating. 🙂

  • Zaphir Shamma

    What a nice way to start my morning, thank you. And those pulled back shots…I find them extremely informative.

  • Dick Harlow

    Thank you for the context shot, much appreciated. I used to be surprised about any insect being seen during winter, either early or late, but that was put to rest when I saw insects moving about on actual snow. So, a nice spider morsel for this Meadowlark is well deserved for this singing beauty.
    Excellent shots, interesting post, thanks for sharing.

  • Judy Gusick

    Beautiful series of photo’s Ron. 🙂 We certainly don’t see them in the snow around here – definitely a summer time bird. Robins are often the ones that get caught in “spring”? storms here as they can show up in Feb.!

  • Jorge H. Oliveira

    Useless information? Not at all. I find it very useful because it gives me not only the setting where the action takes place but also the notion of the distance that you shot.
    For me the best is the one with the spider.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Joe

    I wish I could get that close to a meadowlark. I am working on it though :>)