Colorado State Bird - Lark Bunting




Lark Bunting

(Calamospiza melancorys Stejneger)

Adopted in 1931.

The Lark Bunting, Calamospiza melanocoryus Stejneger, was adopted as the official state bird on April 29, 1931.

The Lark Bunting is a migrant bird. Flocks arrive in April and inhabit the plains regions and areas up to 8,000 feet in elevation. They fly south again in September. The male bird is black with snowy white wing patches and edgings, tail coverts and outer tail feathers. In winter the male bird changes to a gray brown like the female bird, however the chin remains black and the black belly feathers retain white edgings. The female bird is gray brown above and white below with dusky streaks. The male bird is six to seven inches while the female is slightly smaller. The male bird performs a spectacular courtship flight, during which he warbles and trills a distinctive mating song.

Identification Tips:

  • Length: 6 inches
  • Large, pale bill
  • White wing patch

Adult male alternate:

  • Black plumage
  • Large wing patch

Adult female:

  • Brownish head with pale supercilium
  • Brown streaked back
  • White underparts with heavy streaking
  • Blackish wings with brown edges and white wing patch
  • Basic and immature plumages similar to female

Similar species:

The male Lark Bunting is readily identifiable. Female-type plumage is somewhat similar to various sparrows and female finches but has a white wing patch and a large, pale bill.

Length and wingspan from: Robbins, C.S., Bruun, B., Zim, H.S., (1966). Birds of North America. New York: Western Publishing Company, Inc.

Citation: House Bill 222, 1931; Colorado Revised Statute 24-80-910  


Taxonomic Hierarchy 


Animalia -- animals


Chordata -- chordates


Vertebrata -- vertebrates


Aves -- birds


Passeriformes -- perching birds


Fringillidae -- buntings, finches, grosbeaks, old world finches, sparrows


Calamospiza Bonaparte, 1838 -- lark buntings


Calamospiza melanocorys Stejneger, 1885 -- Gorrión ala blanca, lark bunting