It's no secret that the Lark Bunting is the Colorado State Bird, but would you know it if you saw it?

I must confess, bird identification is not my strong suit. I mean, I see feathers, wings, and a beak - my gut instinct tells me it's a bird. Beyond that, my bird identification skills leave much to be desired. It's especially sad because I'm a Colorado native and I feel I should possess more Colorado knowledge.

If you have good bird identification skills and are well-acquainted with Colorado's state bird, I applaud you and commend you. On the other hand, if you find yourself in the same boat as me - that would be the one with a quarter size leak and only one oar - let me help guide you to a place of greater Colorado bird knowledge.

Doug Rudnik

The Lark Bunting is a medium-sized songbird and has been Colorado's state bird since 1931. Larks are part of the sparrow family, 5-7 inches in length with a wingspan of about 11 inches.

Breeding male larks are very distinctive in their appearance. They are black with white wing patches and a pale blue-gray beak. Non-breeding males are going to look more like females with streaking brown and pale brown colors with white mixed in on the wingtips and throat.

These birds will fly south for the winter, heading to Texas and even into northern Mexico.

In Colorado, they like to breed in open grasslands where you'll find some element of sagebrush. They mostly forage on the ground for food but will take some short flights to capture an insect dinner. The song of the lark is a mix of whistles and trills.

Are you feeling confident in your ability to identify a lark bunting? I think I could spot the male, but, to me, the female looks like a lot of other birds. On my next hike, I'll be on the lookout for Colorado's state bird with newfound confidence because of my increased knowledge. Let me know if you see some larks here in the Grand Valley.

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