BobolinkDolichonyx oryzivorus

adult male
Rob Curtis/VIREO
adult female
Rob Curtis/VIREO
fledgling
Tom Friedel/VIREO
adult male
Greg Lasley/VIREO
adult female
Lloyd Spitalnik/VIREO
adult male
Rob Curtis/VIREO
Bobolink
Bobolink

Description

6-8" (15-20 cm). Breeding male largely black, with white rump and back, dull yellow nape. Female and winter male rich buff-yellow, streaked on back and crown. Short, finch-like bill. Female Red-winged Blackbird is darker, less buffy, and has longer bill.

Voice

Flight song is a series of joyous, bubbling, tumbling, gurgling phrases with each note on a different pitch. Call a soft pink, often heard on migration.

Listen

alarm calls of pair
extended song given in flight
pink calls
various calls
song #2
song #2

Habitat

Prairies and meadows; marshes during migration.

Range

Breeds from British Columbia, Manitoba, and Newfoundland south to northern California, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Winters in southern South America.

Discussion

A polygamous bird, the male Bobolink courts with the basic blackbird stance: head down, neck feathers ruffled, tail fanned, and wings arched downward, displaying his prominent white shoulder patches. Originally the Bobolink was probably confined to the central grasslands, but with the settling of the Northeast it quickly spread into New England. Now, with farms abandoned and the land returning to forest, the species is declining. Each fall, migrant Bobolinks gather in large numbers in southern rice fields, where their habit of eating grain has earned them the name "Ricebird."

Nesting

4-7 gray eggs, spotted with red-brown and purple, in a poorly made but well-concealed cup of grass, stems, and rootlets, placed on the ground in a field.

Similar Species

adult male, breeding

Lark Bunting

6-7 1/2" (15-19 cm). Breeding male black, with large white wing patch.

adult male

Dickcissel

6" (15 cm). Male like miniature meadowlark (yellow breast with black V), but has heavy bill and chestnut wing patch.

adult, breeding

Eastern Meadowlark

9-11" (23-28 cm). Robin-sized. A stocky, brown-streaked bird with white-edged tail; bright yellow throat and breast, black V crossing breast.

adult, breeding

Western Meadowlark

8 1/2-11" (22-28 cm). Robin-sized. Streaked brown above, bright yellow below, with a bold black V on breast.

Vireo

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