Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Western Meadowlark

On this day in 1940, John T. S. Hunn and Miriam Minton were birding south of South Plainfield in Middlesex County. The original goal of their day was to find Upland Sandpipers, but Hunn heard a song he recognized from trips out west as belonging to a Western Meadowlark. Although Hunn returned to the location several times during May 1940, the bird was never refound.

It was a good thing that Hunn knew the Western Meadowlark's song, since Eastern and Western meadowlarks look very similar and the best method of distinguishing them is by song. There have been seven accepted records since, all from the spring to summer season. In contrast to many NJ rarities, all Western Meadowlarks so far have been away from the expected coastal rarity magnets such as Cape May or Sandy Hook.

Hunn, John T. S. 1941. Western Meadowlark in New Jersey. Auk 58:265. PDF here


Patrick Belardo said...

I'm glad my hometown of good ol' South Plainfield is known for something besides superfund sites. There's also a Loggerhead Shrike record I believe.

Jennifer Hanson said...

Believe it or not, South Plainfield was quite the birding spot back in the day. W. DeWitt Miller (who worked in the Ornithology department of the American Museum of Natural History) lived in the area and he published many notes about the local avifauna in the Auk. Browsing through the Auk archives on SORA ought to turn up plenty of stuff. Miller's notes were also extensively used by Ludlow Griscom in his book about the birds of the NYC area.

KevinE said...

NJ is the house! I'm going to have NJ engraved on my binos.

*I Donated to Cornell Ornithology!*