male Bobolink has unusual "reversed" plumage, with black underparts and lighter
buff and white colors above. The beautiful, metallic bubbling song is a
common summer sound in the state. Bobolinks were once considered
delicacies at Eastern restaurants, and were heavily hunted for food throughout
the 1800's. Rice farmers of the south also killed great numbers of
Bobolinks, as the "Ricebirds" as they were called often fed in numbers in rice
fields. After making a comeback earlier in the century, Bobolinks again
began to decline in the middle to late 1900's. With their primary breeding
habitat (damp meadows) in short supply, Bobolinks often nest in hay and alfalfa
fields, making nests extremely vulnerable to hay-cutting. A mature
breeding male is
pictured on the right.
Habitat: Prefers damp meadows and dense prairies.
With conversion of these habitats to other land cover types, many now nest in
Diet: Primarily insects in the
summer, also seeds and grains.
Behavior: Usually gregarious except during
breeding season. They will forage either on the ground or on a low
Nesting: June and July
Migration: Summers throughout much of the northern half of the U.S. and southern
Canada. Winters in southern South America.
Conservation Status: Was killed in great numbers for food in the
1800's. Also was historically killed when found foraging in rice
fields. After rebounding, populations have been seriously declining in the
past few decades due to habitat destruction.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Bobolink"
Photo Information: June 5th, 2005
-- Eastern Minnehaha County -- Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Bobolink photos.