Oregon Focus: State Symbols: Bird
About the Western Meadowlark
The school children of Oregon voted the Western Meadowlark as the state bird in 1927 in an election sponsored by the Oregon Audubon Society. Shortly afterwards, Governor I.L. Patterson issued an official proclamation to that effect.
The Western Meadowlark is commonly found in all parts of Oregon. It is a year-round resident except at very high elevations or in heavily timbered areas. About the same size as a robin, the Western Meadowlark's back is brown and buff, while its breast is bright yellow with a black V across the chest.
As suggested by its name, the meadowlark prefers the open fields and meadowlands. It builds its nest like a grassy saucer partially domed in which it lays three to seven spotted eggs. As with most song birds, meadowlarks are almost completely beneficial to humans. They eat insects, small fruits, seeds, waste grain, and small aquatic life. Much of the Western Meadowlark's aesthetic value lies in its cheery song and bright color.
Suggestions for teachers
Ask students to:
Collect pictures of birds. Describe and compare the meadowlark with other birds.
Draw their own pictures or color a picture of a Western Meadowlark.
Make a paper mache model of the state bird.
Learn about birdwatching. Discuss identifying birds by appearance, actions, and sounds.
Use recordings of bird songs. Learn to listen for the meadowlark song. Later, take a field trip and identify the meadowlark and its song.
Invite a local ornithologist to talk about birds in general and meadowlarks in particular.
Learn that birds have different habitats. What is the meadowlark's habitat? What kind of nests do they build? How many eggs do they lay? What do they eat? Bring specimens of food to class.
Read poems about birds.
Write poems about meadowlarks. Simple cinquains work well. Here are some simplified rules for cinquain poetry:
Line 1: Title (one word)
Line 2: Describe the title (one to four words)
Line 3: Action
Line 4: Feeling
Line 5: Rename the title
Learn about aesthetic values and the preservation of wildlife. Discuss animal and man-made threats to song birds, such a house cats and pesticides.
Make a crossword puzzle about meadowlarks.
Write a song about the meadowlark.