Maybe the meadowlark isn’t so bad, after all

I was pretty hard on meadowlarks earlier this spring. I was mainly cranky about them because I thought we had copied a bunch of other states in designating them our state bird. Turns out I was wrong.

I know a lot of people love meadowlarks. For one thing, they’re our state bird. That in itself causes a lot of Wyomingites to revere these yellow-breasted birds. The fact that they’re awful pretty helps, too. Their beautiful song gives them another reason to be adored. But I think the biggest reason so many people love them is that they herald the coming of the spring, often after a long, hard winter.

Western meadowlark singing
It turns out Wyoming was actually the first state to pick the Western meadowlark as its state bird. Photo by Ty Stockton,

For a long time, I actually resented meadowlarks. I thought we as a state had followed along like sheep when a bunch of other states named the meadowlark their state bird. But my good friend, Jeff Obrecht, set me straight. He wrote a piece for Wyoming Wildlife Magazine several years ago that would have corrected me, if I’d been paying attention. Jeff pointed out that Wyoming was the first state to name the meadowlark its state bird – and Wyoming was nearly the first state to have any state bird at all. Only Texas beat us, and by a scant five days. So we were the first to adopt the meadowlark as our state bird. It’s Oregon, Nebraska, Montana, Kansas and North Dakota who are the copy-cats.

Knowing that caused me to soften my attitude toward meadowlarks a bit, and it allowed me to sit and listen to a meadowlark’s call the other day. It’s an incredible tune, and it’s made even more impressive knowing the male larks do it without the aid of lips. Pretty amazing.

And yes, they are among the first birds to come back to Wyoming in the spring, meaning winter has for the most part released its cold grip. I can appreciate that. I still think our state bird ought to be one that sticks around through the harsh weather, but I’ll give it to the meadowlark – at least it does come back. I’ll let it slide on that one, now that I know Wyoming claimed this little yellow bird first.