Family New World Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Least Concern

Long-tailed Meadowlark (Leistes loyca)


French: Sturnelle australe German: Langschwanzstärling Spanish: Loica común

Sturnus loyca


, 1782,



Formerly treated as conspecific with L. bellicosus or with both latter and L. defilippii. Birds intermediate between nominate race and catamarcanus said to occur in W Argentina, and range listed for latter is tentative; detailed study required. Geographical variation partly clinal; size appears to increase from N to S and in Andean highlands. If present species and L. militaris [= Emberiza militaris Linnaeus, 1758] are treated in separate genera, present species reverts to its older specific epithet, militaris [= Sturnus militaris Linnaeus, 1771], which has priority over loyca. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. l. catamarcanus (Zotta, 1937) – local in highlands of NW Argentina (Jujuy and Salta S to La Rioja).
  • L. l. loyca (Molina, 1782) – Chile (S Atacama S to Cape Horn) and Argentina (San Juan, Mendoza and Buenos Aires S to Tierra del Fuego).
  • L. l. obscurus (Nores & Yzurieta, 1979) – Sierras de Córdoba and San Luis, in C Argentina.
  • L. l. falklandicus (Leverkühn, 1889) – Falkland Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    Male average 26·9 cm, 112·4 g; female average 97·1 g. Male nominate race is mostly brown with blackish streaks above, head and side of neck blackish;... read more


    Song, by both sexes, usually from perch (e.g. shrub, rock, fence post), male rarely while flying,... read more


    Mesic to dry grasslands and shrubby steppes of various types. In drier Andes partial to relatively... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods (mostly insects), seeds and some fruit (Berberis). Feeds on maize (Zea mays) seeds in W Argentina. In Falkland... read more


    Season Sept–Jan in Chile and Argentina; nesting sometimes starts in late Aug in Falkland Is. Probably monogamous. Solitary breeder,... read more


    Apparently resident, even in extreme S (Tierra del Fuego). Some latitudinal and altitudinal... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common and reasonably widespread; more local in drier Andes. Has expanded its range in C Argentina because of replacement of native woodland with... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fraga, R. (2020). 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 on 25 February 2020).