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Description of the Bobolink

BREEDING MALE

The Bobolink is strongly sexually dimorphic in the breeding season, with a black crown being the only notable plumage similarity between the sexes.

Males have an unusual reverse pattern of being paler above than below. They have a black crown, face, and underparts, a yellow nape, and a white rump and scapulars.  Length: 7 in.  Wingspan: 11 in.

bobolink

 Bobolink 2 gb
Photograph © Glenn Bartley.

Female

Females are brownish and streaked above, with pale underparts, a pale nape, and a pale supercilium with a black line behind the eye.

bobolink

Seasonal change in appearance

Winter adults resemble breeding females, but are much buffier above and below.

Juvenile

Juveniles are similar to winter adults.

Habitat

Bobolinks inhabit meadows, dense prairies, and hayfields.

Diet

Bobolinks eat insects and seeds.

Behavior

Bobolinks forage on the ground and in grasses or weeds.

Range

Bobolinks breed across much of the northern half of the U.S. and in southwestern Canada. They winter in South America. The population has declined in recent decades.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Bobolink.

Wing Shape

The shape of a bird's wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species' identification.

Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History

Fun Facts

Bobolinks occur in flocks, except during the breeding season.

Male Bobolinks have a fluttery display flight that is performed while singing.

Vocalizations

The song consists of a pleasantly bubbly warble. A "chuck" call is given as well.

Purchase the ringtone for this species at www.feathertalk.com

Nesting

The Bobolink’s nest is a cup of grasses and weeds and is lined with finer materials. It is placed on the ground in dense cover.

Number: Usually 5-6.
Color: Grayish in color with darker markings.

Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 11-13 days, and fledge at about 8-14 days, though remaining dependent on the adults for some time.