Pampas Meadowlark Leistes defilippii

  • © Cláudio Dias Timm

The Pampas Meadowlark is unusual for a meadowlark, it is the one species that has not been able to adapt well to agriculture and human related changes to the environment. Other meadowlarks have become more common and some are even spreading in distribution as forests are cut, and agriculture takes over, but it is quite the opposite for the Pampas Meadowlark. It has become rare, in fact it is highly endangered and officially listed as Vulnerable. Maps of its distribution show a wide range from southern Buenos Aires province in Argentina clear up to southernmost Brazil in Rio Grande do Sul, and this is correct but misleading. The species is very local and it is only found in fragmented populations throughout its historical range, although in the north these are very precarious. Right now the stronghold of the Pampas Meadowlark is southwest Buenos Aires province and adjacent La Pampa. The issue is that this meadowlark needs tall, “old growth” grassland and does not breed in agricultural areas or those with intensive cattle ranching. These natural grasslands are harder and harder to find, and are easily converted to other uses. It is estimated that when much of this part of the world was a huge tall-grass prairie, the Pampas Meadowlark may have been one of the most common species in the region! While the meadowlark can coexist with some cattle ranching, it cannot be intense, and it does not breed in planted non-native grasses. Preservation of habitat for this bird would in effect preserve a bit of the original Pampas, not only ecologically significant, but culturally significant to the nations of this region.

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Flight song

© Mark Robbins

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Pampas Meadowlark (Leistes defilippii), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: