You will have to look at my photos closely in order to see the Eastern Meadowlark, but despite the distance between the bird and ourselves, Bob and I were thrilled to see it in the grasslands of the Carden Alvar.
We had barely landed at the Carden Alvar before noticing this lovely specimen in a farmer’s field along County Road 6 just north of the Kirkfield Locks. It turned out that there were two Eastern Meadowlarks flitting about the dry grasses or probing among clods of dirt for insects, but they kept a fair distance away.
Partly because of the stretch of grass between us and also owing to the brown and black dappled plumage of an Eastern Meadowlark’s back, the pair all but disappeared when they settled to the ground, and these are quite substantial birds as songbirds go.
Said to often sing from prominent perches, Bob and I waited to see if either of these Eastern Meadowlarks would venture to a wooden fence post at the perimeter of the field where we were standing, but that did not happen. One of the Meadowlarks did break out in a brief song, a series of melodic flute-like whistles that are very pleasing to the ear.
Eastern Meadowlarks are a threatened species because of loss of habitat, and people are encouraged to report any sightings to the Ministry of Natural Resources. It is in places like the protected lands of the Carden Alvar that many songbirds, Eastern Meadowlarks included, stand a better chance of successfully raising their brood, and for that we owe the Nature Conservancy of Canada a huge thank you.
Earlier this spring, another Eastern Meadowlark crossed our paths when we flushed it at Rouge National Park in Toronto. Too early in the season to be on the nest, it nonetheless erupted out of some long, dry grass when we got too close for its comfort. We had been oblivious of its presence and so were hugely surprised when it took flight from near our feet.
Even landing just a few feet away, Bob could not detect its location on the ground, but he shot a random photograph of the area anyway. Lo and behold, when checking the photographs on our computer monitor later, there was the Eastern Meadowlark. It had remained invisible because of the colour of its plumage.
In hopes of spotting more Eastern Meadowlarks along Wylie Road at the Carden Alvar, Bob and I pulled ourselves away from this sighting when, once again, the birds flew to a more distant spot in the untilled field. Up Wylie Road, near Windmill Ranch, we came across one more Eastern Meadowlark, but it was not cooperative and also remained too far away for a good photo. But there is always the next time. That’s what I keep telling myself.
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