The bobolink is a fascinating bird king of the grasslandWORTHINGTON — A few years back I was out shooting sporting clay at the Horse Barn and Hunt Club in Lakefield, and as I was walking around the course I saw a most interesting bird. I asked the owner operator, Brent Rossow, just what kind of bird it was and he informed me that the bird was a Bobolink. I had never seen one and was fascinated by this little bird king of the grasslands.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — A few years back I was out shooting sporting clay at the Horse Barn and Hunt Club in Lakefield, and as I was walking around the course I saw a most interesting bird.
I asked the owner operator, Brent Rossow, just what kind of bird it was and he informed me that the bird was a Bobolink. I had never seen one and was fascinated by this little bird king of the grasslands.
A bobolink is about the size of a robin, but the thing that sticks out the most is the fact that it is bright white on the top and black on the bottom.
They exist in grassland environments and their populations have been on the decline like almost all other songbirds.
I had to know more about this really neat creature.
I thought that this birds’ coloration was its most distinctive feature but after my curiosity got the better of me I did a little research and found the Bobolink to be more than just really good looking.
The bobolink is a mighty migrater. Each year they make it all the way to the equator and beyond. This annual trek is over 12,000 miles round trip and one bird that was monitored had made the trip nine times, which equates to a distance almost five times the complete circumference of planet earth at the equator.
The bobolink also has two molts per year. Molting is the exchange of the majority of their feathers, and most bird’s molt one time per year. The first molt is the one that creates the bright white feathers in time for the breeding season, and the second molt turns the bird into a camouflage pattern to help it survive the rest of the year. The females of this species look much like a big English sparrow. Females of almost all bird species have very little coloration in order to help them conceal themselves during the nesting season. The Bobolink is no different.
The range that these birds occupy runs from central North America all the way to the upper reaches of Canada. They normally lay four to six eggs and are ground nesters. This fact makes it easy to understand why they have seen population declines as a result of the loss of grassland cover in most of the United States.
Ground nesting birds need large expanses of cover to avoid predators. Nesting in a narrow fence line makes the hunting by predators much easier, and results in much higher mortality. You can go see a bobolink on just about any state wildlife management area. I cannot accurately describe the song of this bird, but it is wide-ranging and one of the many voices that you would enjoy if you spend any time in the great outdoors.
One evening this week I took a drive to a small patch of grassland in Nobles County with the sole purpose of seeing and watching for bobolinks, and was able to see about a dozen. I might have seen the same one 12 times but it was a nice outing none the less.
Whether you watch the bobolinks or the redwing blackbird singing form the highest spot available, there is much to enjoy in the great outdoors, even if it’s between hunting seasons. I never really considered myself a bird watcher but that title is getting more appropriate is seems.
So the next time that you find yourself with some time during the dog days of summer, go pick up the neighbor kid along with your own, if you have any, and take them to see the bobolink. This little trip might just instill the love of nature that we so desperately need in the youth of our society. If nobody appreciates the bobolink who will work hard to protect its habitat the habitat of the many other creatures that he shares it with?
I am just guessing, but when mister bobolink flashes past you with the brightest display of white and black feathers that nature can provide, he might be saying to himself “I really do like showing off just a little”!!!