BOBOLINK

BOBOLINK (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Bobolink is a small bird with black under parts in the breeding male, with white and black for the top parts. There is a dark brown cap and the back of the head is yellowish. The belly is grey. The bill and eyes are black and the legs are pinkish. The female and non-breeding male are brown on top and lighter brown for the underside. The bill is beige, but the legs remain pink. Bird length is about 17 cm (7 inches).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Dolichonyx-oryzivorus – The bobolink has a melodious song that can be heard when it flies.
NAME: The English name ‘Bobolink’ is an onomatopoeia stemming from the bird’s call. The Latin genus name ‘Dolichonix’ is from ancient Greek and means ‘long claw’. As for the Latin species name ‘Orizivorus’, it means ‘to devour rice’, in reference to this bird’s diet. As a matter of fact the bobolink was also called ‘Ricebird’.
HABITAT: Fields (both wild and cultivated ) and prairie.
DIET: Summer: seeds, insects and other invertebrates. During its migration south, the bobolink will feed on grain, especially rice.
BREEDING/NESTING: Bobolinks are polygamous, and a clutch may have eggs from more than one father. The bobolink breeds in grassy areas including cultivated hay fields. The nest is on the ground in a moist area. Around six grey-brown eggs are laid, which are incubated by the female. Both parents feed the chicks.
DISTRIBUTION: The breeding range of the bobolink covers the south part of Canada and the northern half of the USA east of the Rockies. During migration it is found in the southern part of the USA east of the Rockies, and southward to the middle of South America.
DISTRIBUTION MAP: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobolink#/media/File:Dolichonyx_oryzivorus.svg
ON PEI: In spite of a serious population decline in the last few decades, the bobolink is still fairly common on Prince Edward Island during the breeding season.
CONSERVATION:  Because of the bobolink habit of foraging in rice (and other cultivated) fields during migration, farmers consider it as a pest and may shoot them. In South America they also use toxic pesticides not allowed in North America. The locating of their nests  in cultivated fields has contributed to their decline due to early hay harvesting. This agricultural practice doesn’t give the young enough time to reach fledgling stage. The species is now considered as threatened in Canada because of this. As a conservation measure, farmers in many areas now wait till mid-July before cutting their hay. Island Nature Trust has a project to help protect this bird.
NOTES: Bobolinks are part of what is called the ‘New World Blackbirds’, passerines with black as the predominant color, but with vivid yellow, orange or red plumage features.
Outside the breeding season this species forms large foraging flocks.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Red-winged Blackbird (female)
REFERENCES: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobolink
https://www.ontario.ca/page/bobolink (Threatened in Ontario)
https://wildlife-species.canada.ca/species-risk-registry/species/speciesDetails_e.cfm?sid=1087 (COSEWIC)
https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)
http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/okanagan/esd/atlas/species/bobolink.html (British Columbia Environment, Species at Risk)
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/bobolink
https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/bobolink (Missouri Department of Conservation)

Bobolink - Mount Stewart, PEI - July 19, 2015 - by Don Jardine
Bobolink – Mount Stewart, PEI – July 19, 2015 – by Don Jardine
Bobolink juvenile - Souris Line Road - Aug. 2, 2017 - Kathy McCormack
Bobolink juvenile – Souris Line Road – Aug. 2, 2017 – © Kathy McCormack
Bobolink, female - Central PEI - July 25, 2017 - © Chris Rice
Bobolink, female – Central PEI – July 25, 2017 – Chris Rice

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