Adults have yellow underparts with a black "V" on the breast and white flanks with black streaks. The upperparts are mainly brown with black streaks. They have a long pointed bill; the head is striped with light brown and black.
Their breeding habitat is grasslands and prairie, also pastures and hay fields, across eastern North America to South America. The ranges of the Eastern and Western Meadowlarks overlap across the centre of the continent. The nest is on the ground, covered with a roof woven from grasses. There may be more than one nesting female in a male's territory.
These birds are permanent residents throughout much of their range. Northern birds migrate to the southern parts of the range.
These birds forage on the ground or in low vegetation, sometimes probing with its bill. They mainly eat insects, also seeds and berries. In winter, they often feed in flocks.
The song of this bird is simpler and not warbled like that of the Western Meadowlark; this may be the easiest way to tell the two birds apart.
The numbers of this birds increased as forests were cleared in eastern North America; their numbers are now declining with a decline in suitable habitat.