Date: 7/3/17 4:02 pm
From: <ericwalters7...> [ILbirds] <ILbirds-noreply...>
Subject: IBET Western Meadowlarks expanding eastward in Illinois?
Speculative title, but I wonder if there could be some merit to this.

In late May, while passing through Iroquois County, I was surprised to hear/see a Western Meadowlark, obviously on a territory being so late in Spring, only 10 miles from the Indiana state line. I later looked at eBird and found that Doug Stotz had a singing male in early Spring almost directly east of my sighting, but only 2 miles from the Indiana state line!
Further investigation and I noticed there was an unconfirmed report of a group of 10 last Fall, which was less than two miles north of my sighting! I can understand why that report was unconfirmed, as it seems crazy to think there could be that many Western's so far east, so late in Fall. However, a group of 10 could easily be just two family groups and if my bird in late May ended up being a successful breeder this year, then that could be a nice sized group... and since meadowlarks do join up together in the Fall, if indeed there are a few breeders in this area, then a group of 10 would make sense.

Overall, it appears Western Meadowlarks have secretly made it over near the Indiana state line in Iroquois County and I wonder if this is a growing trend, as well as something representative of what could already be occurring in a number of eastern IL counties, all mostly hidden to IL birders to this point.

Eric Walters
Grandview, MO/Zion, IL
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