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What Is the State Bird of North Dakota?

Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee

The state bird of North Dakota is the western meadowlark. Scientifically known a Sturnella Neglecta , it was officially designated the state bird in 1947. This species of songbird is so common throughout western North America that it has also been designated the state bird of Oregon, Kansas, Montana and Nebraska. The state bird of North Dakota reaches an average height of 8 to 11 inches (20.3 to 27.9 centimeters) and typically weighs between 3.1 and 4.1 ounces (89 to 115 grams). It can typically be identified by its bright yellow breast and throat, which is usually marked with a black V pattern in the feathers while its wings and back are typically pale brown with darker brown stripes.

The western meadowlark is considered a type of blackbird. It is believed to be one of the few blackbirds in which the males of the species are not entirely black in color. The state bird of North Dakota is known for its song, which typically contains seven to ten notes. Males of the species usually use their song to identify their territory.

The western meadowlark is common throughout western North America, including the state of North Dakota.
The western meadowlark is common throughout western North America, including the state of North Dakota.

These birds are most often found in open grasslands and pastures. They typically feed on seeds and insects. More than half of their diet consists of grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, and the like, which they forage from the grass using their long, narrow bills.

Birds of this species typically nest on the ground. Male western meadowlarks may mate with up to three females per breeding season, and will generally allow these birds to nest within their territories. The state bird of North Dakota generally prefers to build its nests on the ground, and will usually construct a bowl-shaped nest of woven grass. Nests are usually completely or partially covered with a woven grass roof, and some nests may have access tunnels that can reach several feet in length.

The typical female of the species lays five eggs twice a year. These eggs are normally white with brown and purple spots. Eggs normally hatch after about two weeks of incubation, and the young birds mature in about six weeks. The state bird of North Dakota generally develops its adult markings when it molts for the first time.

Female western meadowlarks typically rear their young without much assistance from the males of the species. Male western meadowlarks have been known to occasionally feed their young, but the females are generally responsible for incubating them and for most of their care after hatching.

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Discussion Comments


North Dakota's state bird has a very unique voice, so if you get a chance to hear one singing it is really something else. I have always liked songbirds and the Western Meadowlark sounds almost flutelike. You can search online and find a nice sound clip of them singing to get a feel for them.

When my friend and I were bird watching in North Dakota we actually found the Western Meadowlark because the male was singing and it is a very distinct sound. Once you have heard them sing it is probably the easiest way to find the birds out in the wild.


@Sara007 - Both the North Dakota state flower and bird are quite nice, so if you get a chance I would try and see if you can add the state flower to your list of sights seen. Most women really like the Wild Prairie Rose as it has a brilliant pink color and has a delicate look to it.

I am actually a bigger fan of the North Dakota state tree. The American Elm is really beautiful and are actually quite valuable. A mature American Elm can be insured for around $2,500 USD which is good thing if your aunt has several on her property. You don't want anyone getting over zealous and chopping them down for firewood.


When I was visiting my aunt earlier this month I got a good view of North Dakota's state bird in her background. It was surprisingly pretty and I thought that the yellow details made it really easy to spot. My aunt has always been a bit of a bird watcher so me spotting the western meadowlark was quite exciting for her.

To round out my trip she also took the tome to show me the state tree of North Dakota which she has growing on her property. The American Elm is quite huge and a really impressive tree when you get up close. It was kind of neat seeing some of the state sights without having to leave my aunt's farm. Who knows what I will get to see on my next visit.

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    • The western meadowlark is common throughout western North America, including the state of North Dakota.
      By: Ruslan Olinchuk
      The western meadowlark is common throughout western North America, including the state of North Dakota.