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Bobolink

Dolichonyx oryzivorus

Length: 6.5 to 7.5 inches Wingspan: 11 to 12 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Breeding male - Black underparts and wings, buffy back of head, white rump, white wing patch.  See photos below for non-breeding bird plumage.

Bobolink - Dolichonyx oryzivorusThe 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 hay/alfalfa fields.

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 perch.

Nesting: June and July

Song: Bobolink Song

Migration: Summers throughout much of the northern half of the U.S. and southern Canada.  Winters in southern South America.

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access an interactive eBird map of Bobolink sightings

Similar Species: Lark Bunting

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.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Bobolink

2) BirdWeb - Bobolink

3) Audubon Guide - 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.

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Bobolink - Species Range map
South Dakota Status: Common summer resident in the eastern part of the state.  Uncommon in the west.

Additional Bobolink Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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