The Western Meadowlark: Facts About North Dakota’s State Bird

Have you ever wondered what the North Dakota State bird is? Symbols, like state animals and birds, can help show our respect for the flora and fauna of a particular area.

Birds are so ubiquitous as symbols as to be often the inspiration behind everything in a community from restaurant names to energy drinks and sport’s team names – just think Baltimore Orioles.

Every state in America has an officially- designated state bird. On the list of state birds, you’ll see everything from Baltimore orioles to roadrunner and even chickens!

A few states have the same state bird, though some like the California quail are unique to their state.

Many states, like North Dakota, have songbirds as their official state birds, and it’s common to see them at feeding tables and bird boxes across the country.

But what’s the North Dakota state bird? It’s the same state bird as five other states, and it’s the Sturnella neglecta, otherwise known as the western meadowlark.


Why Is The Western Meadowlark North Dakota’s State Bird?

Officially designated in 1947, North Dakota shares the western meadowlark with five other states – Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, and Wyoming.

The open plains of the western two-thirds of North Dakota are home to the western meadowlark, and they’re common to see – and hear across the state.

The North Dakota state bird, the western meadowlark or Sturnella Neglecta has a streaked brown back, a black-and-white striped head, a bright yellow throat, and a black V on its breast.

In the North Dakota winter, the western meadowlark’s plumage gets duller, making it even more camouflaged in the grass. Adults are around eight to eleven inches tall and have a long, pointed bill.

Sturnella neglecta, the North Dakota state bird, are in the same family as blackbirds and orioles, and their 7-10 flute-like melody is a distinct sound of the prairies.

You’ll often see a Sturnella neglecta perched atop a fence post, making it one of the most iconic birds in the state of North Dakota.

When it’s flying around its state of North Dakota, a western meadowlark has short wings and a spiky tail with visible white outer edges.

The western meadowlark is the state bird for six states, and its range covers almost all of the United States, apart from a few areas in the South East.

Sturnella neglecta nest on the ground in the state of North Dakota.

The meadowlark Sturnella neglecta feeds on mainly small bugs in the summer, when it eats mainly ants, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and spiders, all of which are plentiful in the lush grasses of North Dakota.

Western meadowlark Sturnella neglecta will fatten up on seeds and grain in fall and winter, making up about one-third of their diet for the cold North Dakota state months ahead.


What Are The State Birds for All 50 States?

Just like the Western meadowlark Sturnella neglecta, the North Dakota state bird, every state has its own state bird, recognized as state symbols.

The selection of a state bird didn’t begin with North Dakota State, which didn’t get the meadowlark Sturnella until 1947, but actually began in 1927. The last state to choose its bird – Arizona – wasn’t until 1973.

Here’s a list of the birds for all fifty states, keep an eye out for North Dakota. You’ll see every color of the rainbow, songbirds, and big, flightless birds.

Some, like the Black-capped chickadee of Massachusetts, are common sights on the bird feeder in your backyard, while others like the Common loon of Minnesota, are special sightings on rare occasions.

From the American robin to the Northern cardinal, the Willow goldfinch to the Western meadowlark, how many state birds have you seen?


List of State Birds for All 50 States

  • Alabama – Yellowhammer aka Northern flicker
  • Alaska – Willow ptarmigan
  • Arizona – Cactus wren
  • Arkansas – Northern Mockingbird
  • California – California quail
  • Colorado – Lark bunting
  • Connecticut – American robin
  • Delaware – Delaware Blue Hen
  • District of Columbia – Wood thrush
  • Florida – Northern mockingbird
  • Georgia – Brown thrasher
  • Hawaii – Hawaiian goose
  • Idaho – Mountain bluebird
  • Illinois – Northern cardinal
  • Indiana – Northern cardinal
  • Iowa – Eastern goldfinch
  • Kansas – Western meadowlark
  • Kentucky – Northern cardinal
  • Louisiana – Brown pelican
  • Maine – Chickadee
  • Maryland – Baltimore oriole
  • Massachusetts – Black-capped chickadee
  • Michigan – American robin
  • Minnesota – Common loon
  • Mississippi – Northern mockingbird
  • Missouri – Eastern bluebird
  • Montana – Western meadowlark
  • Nebraska – Western meadowlark
  • New Hampshire – Purple finch
  • New Jersey – Eastern goldfinch aka American goldfinch
  • Nevada – Mountain bluebird
  • New Mexico – Chaparral bird aka Greater roadrunner
  • New York – Eastern bluebird
  • North Carolina – Northern cardinal
  • North Dakota – Western meadowlark
  • Ohio – Northern cardinal
  • Oklahoma – Scissor-tailed flycatcher
  • Oregon – Western meadowlark
  • Pennsylvania – Ruffed Grouse
  • Rhode Island – Rhode Island Red
  • South Carolina – Carolina wren
  • South Dakota – Ring-necked pheasant
  • Tennessee – Northern mockingbird
  • Texas – Northern mockingbird
  • Utah – California gull
  • Vermont – Hermit thrush
  • Virginia – Northern cardinal
  • Washington – Willow goldfinch
  • West Virginia – Northern cardinal
  • Wisconsin – American robin
  • Wyoming – Western meadowlark