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Long-tailed meadowlark (Leistes loyca)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Icteridae
Genus: Leistes
Vigors, 1825
Type species
Oriolus americanus
Gmelin, 1788
  • S. militaris
  • S. superciliaris
  • S. bellicosus
  • S. defilippii
  • S. loyca

The genus Leistes are predominantly South American grassland birds called meadowlarks. The genus was previously lumped with the North American meadowlarks in the genus Sturnella.

It includes five species of largely insectivorous grassland birds. In all species the male at least has a black or brown back and extensively red underparts.

List of species

There are five widely accepted members of the genus.[1]

Image Common Name Scientific name Distribution
Red-breasted meadowlark (formerly red-breasted blackbird) Leistes militaris south-western Costa Rica, and Trinidad, south to north-eastern Peru and central Brazil
White-browed meadowlark (formerly white-browed blackbird) Leistes superciliaris south-western Brazil through Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina
Peruvian meadowlark Leistes bellicosus western Peru, Ecuador and far northern Chile.
Pampas meadowlark Leistes defilippii Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.
Long-tailed meadowlark Leistes loyca southern South America and the Falkland Islands


By the early 20th century, the meadowlarks were split. Only the "yellow-breasted" meadowlarks (eastern and western meadowlarks, including Lilian's) remained in the genus Sturnella. The red-breasted and white-browed meadowlarks were moved to the genus Leistes, while the pampas meadowlark, Peruvian meadowlark and long-tailed meadowlark made up the genus Pezites, which was established by Cabanis in 1851. By the late 20th century, all meadowlarks were lumped in the genus Sturnella. In 2017, all the red-breasted meadowlarks were merged into the genus Leistes.


  1. ^ "ITIS Report: Sturnella". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 29 November 2014.


  • del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Christie, David, eds. (2011). Handbook of Birds of the World, volume 16: Tanagers to New World Blackbirds. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-84-96553-78-1.
  • New World Blackbirds by Jaramillo and Burke, ISBN 0-7136-4333-1

Further reading

  • Powell, A.F.L.A.; Barker, F.K.; Lanyon, S.M.; Burns, K.J.; Klicka, J.; Lovette, I.J. (2014). "A comprehensive species-level molecular phylogeny of the New World blackbirds (Icteridae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 71: 94–112. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.11.009. PMID 24291659.
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