White-browed Meadowlark Leistes superciliaris


The two smaller species of meadowlarks, including the White-browed, used to be put in their own genus, Leistes. These two, the other being the Red-breasted (S. militaris), are indeed sister species, but they fit right in with the rest of the meadowlarks even though their body shape is somewhat different. The Leistes subgroup is small, with relatively short and finch-like bills and they have particularly short tails. Like its close relative, males of this meadowlark are largely blackish bodied with a bright red throat and breast. However, as the name mentions the White-browed has a broad and striking white supercilium. Females are brownish and streaked, with dull red or pinkish on the breast. The distribution of the White-browed is complementary to that of the Red-breasted, being found south of the Amazon Basin. As forests are being cleared it is possible that the two may eventually meet up somewhere, perhaps in N Bolivia or SW Peru. It will be enlightening to see how the two behave in sympatry, if hybridization occurs or not. Male White-brows give their buzzy song from a flight display where the male flies up steeply to about 40 feet in elevation, then glides with spread wings and tail giving it an unusual almost bat-like look.

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© Curtis Marantz

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

Recommended Citation

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