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Long-tailed Meadowlark - BirdForum Opus

Male, subspecies loyca
Photo © by Sussex bird man
Peninsula Valdes, Argentina, November 2005
Leistes loyca

Sturnella loyca


Male, subspecies falklandica
Photo © by crispash
Volunteer Point , Falklands East Island, March 2005

Length 24.0-25.5 cm, wingspan 11.4-13.1 cm, weight 67-131 g. Female markedly smaller, with apparently no overlap in wing length and little in tail length.
Male: Overall heavily streaked grey-brown with strong white supercillium (red nearest bill), very dark side of head with thin white submoustacial stripe. Strong, straight, grey, pointed bill. Bright red breast. White underwing.
Female: Supercilium and throat buffy, underside mostly streaked similar to upperside, pale pink area to central belly and lower breast.


Southern Chile, southern Argentina, and the Falkland Islands.


Female, subspecies falklandica
Photo © by Ronald B. Davis
Bleaker Island Settlement, Falkland Islands, 19 January 2011

In the past, this species has been lumped with the Red-breasted Blackbird, along with Peruvian and Pampas Meadowlark.
This species has formerly been placed in the genus Sturnella.
The genus Pezites has also been applied to the combined species.


Three subspecies are recognized by Clements[1]:

  • L. l. catamarcanus: Paler
  • North-western Argentina (Jujuy and Catamarca)
  • L. l. loyca: Smaller, widespread
  • L. l. falklandicus: Largest, with the longest bill

A fourth subspecies obscura from the highlands of Central Argentina is recognized by Howard & Moore[2] & HBW[3]. It is darker with red more restricted.


Coastal areas, meadow land and tussock grass, often with rocks.



Nests are made by the female and are woven from grass, with an entrance tunnel, and are hidden amongst ground vegetation or gorse. Sub-species falklandica - female builds a nest of dry grass, hidden on ground or in tussock grass.

Late Aug--late Nov, 2-4 blue-white eggs, blotched purple and black are laid and incubated by the female for about 14 days. Both parents feed the young and probably raise two broods per season.


Diet includes worms, grubs, beetles, caterpillars and marine invertebrates taken from the shore.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Dickinson, EC, ed. 2014. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 4th ed. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0956861122
  3. Fraga, R. (2018). Long-tailed Meadowlark (Leistes loyca). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/62328 on 23 May 2018).
  4. Gill, F & D Donsker (Eds). 2018. IOC World Bird List (v8.1). doi : 10.14344/IOC.ML.8.1. Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  5. Remsen, J. V., Jr., J. I. Areta, C. D. Cadena, S. Claramunt, A. Jaramillo, J. F. Pacheco, M. B. Robbins, F. G. Stiles, D. F. Stotz, and K. J. Zimmer. Version [6 April 2018]. A classification of the bird species of South America. American Ornithologists' Union. http://www.museum.lsu.edu/~Remsen/SACCBaseline.htm
  6. Avibase

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