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 abandoned fields, across western and central North America to northern Mexico. Where their range overlaps with the eastern species, these birds prefer thinner, drier vegetation; the two birds generally do not interbreed but do defend territory against each other. 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 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.
This bird has a flute-like warbled song, unlike the simple whistled call of the Eastern Meadowlark. They were considered to be the same species for some time; the western species, having been overlooked for some time, was given the species name neglecta.