Bobolink

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Bobolink
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Passeriformes
Family:Icteridae
Genus:Dolichonyx
Swainson, 1827
Species:D. oryzivorus
Binomial name
Dolichonyx oryzivorus
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Approximate distribution. blue: breeding; ochre: nonbreeding
 
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Bobolink
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Passeriformes
Family:Icteridae
Genus:Dolichonyx
Swainson, 1827
Species:D. oryzivorus
Binomial name
Dolichonyx oryzivorus
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Approximate distribution. blue: breeding; ochre: nonbreeding
New England, USA
New England, USA

The Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) is a small New World blackbird and the only member of genus Dolichonyx.

Description[edit]

Adults are 16–18 cm (6.3–7.1 in) long with short finch-like bills. They weigh about 1 oz (28 g).[2] Adult males are mostly black with creamy napes and white scapulars, lower backs, and rumps. Adult females are mostly light brown, although their coloring includes black streaks on the back and flanks, and dark stripes on the head; their wings and tails are darker. The collective name for a group of Bobolinks is a chain.[3]

Distribution and movements[edit]

These birds migrate to Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. One bird was tracked flying 12,000 mi (19,000 km) over the course of the year, and up to 1,100 mi (1,800 km) in one day.[2]

They often migrate in flocks, feeding on cultivated grains and rice, which leads to them being considered a pest by farmers in some areas. Although Bobolinks migrate long distances, they have rarely been sighted in Europe—like many vagrants from the Americas, the overwhelming majority of records are from the British Isles.[citation needed]

Each fall, Bobolinks gather in large numbers in South American rice fields to feed on grain. This has earned them the name "Ricebird" in these parts. In Jamaica, however, they are called "Butterbirds" and are collected as food, having fattened up before passing through on migration.

Behaviour[edit]

Breeding[edit]

Their breeding habitats are open grassy fields, especially hay fields, across North America. In high-quality habitats, males are often polygynous. Females lay 5 to 6 eggs in a cup-shaped nest, which is always situated on the ground and is usually well-hidden in dense vegetation. Both parents feed the young.

Feeding[edit]

Bobolinks forage on or near the ground, and mainly eat seeds, insects, cultivated grains and rice.

Calls[edit]

Males sing bright, bubbly songs in flight; these songs gave this species its common name.

Status and conservation[edit]

The numbers of these birds are declining due to loss of habitat. In Vermont, a 75% decline was noted between 1966 to 2007.[2] Originally, they were found in tall grass prairie and other open areas with dense grass. Although hay fields are suitable nesting habitat, fields which are harvested early, or at multiple times, in a season may not allow sufficient time for young birds to fledge. This species increased in numbers when horses were the primary mode of transportation, requiring larger supplies of hay.

Media references[edit]

Emily Dickinson penned many poems about the bird (The text follows R.W. Franklin's edition; the numbering is 1620 in Franklin's edition, while it is listed as 1591 in Thomas H. Johnson's.)

The Bobolink is mentioned in the song Evelina by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, from the musical Bloomer Girl:[4]

Evelina, won't ya ever take a shine to that moon?
Evelina, ain't ya bothered by the Bobolink's tune?

The bird is also one of the many important ornithological references in Vladimir Nabokov's John Shade's poem "Pale Fire" in the novel of the same name.

Sophia Jewett ends her poem An Exile's Garden (1910) with a reference to a Bobolink.[5]

The bobolink is also mentioned in the film The Mouse on the Moon in connection with the fictional European microstate of Grand Fenwick,where oddly the bird is apparently common.

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Dolichonyx oryzivorus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Page, Candace (25 June 2010). "1,100 miles in a day". Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press. pp. 1A. 
  3. ^ "Collective nouns, groups of animals, terms for animal and other groups including birds". Hintsandthings.co.uk. 1980-04-28. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  4. ^ Who Put the Rainbow in the " Wizard of Oz? ": Yip Harburg, Lyricist - Harold Meyerson, Ernest Harburg - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  5. ^ The poems of Sophie Jewett - Sophie Jewett - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 

External links[edit]