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Merlin Bird ID

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    Bobolink

    Silhouette BlackbirdsBlackbirds

    Bobolink

    Dolichonyx oryzivorus
    • ORDER: Passeriformes
    • FAMILY: Icteridae
    Basic Description

    Perched on a grass stem or displaying in flight over a field, breeding male Bobolinks are striking. No other North American bird has a white back and black underparts (some have described this look as wearing a tuxedo backwards). Added to this are the male’s rich, straw-colored patch on the head and his bubbling, virtuosic song. As summer ends he molts into a buff and brown female-like plumage. Though they’re still fairly common in grasslands, Bobolink numbers are declining.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for BobolinkRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    It’s easiest to find Bobolinks if you look for males giving their display flights during spring and early summer. In grassy or overgrown fields and pastures, listen for a long, burbling song punctuated with sharp metallic notes. The male Bobolink often sings this song while flying in a peculiar helicopter-like pattern, moving slowly with his wings fluttering rapidly. Outside of the breeding season, look for these long-distance migrants in rice fields and listen for their sharp pink call notes.

    Other Names
    • Tordo Arrocero (Spanish)
    • Goglu des prés (French)

    Backyard Tips

    If there’s breeding habitat of grassy pasture or overgrown fields near your home, Bobolinks may visit open yards to forage on seed-bearing weeds.

    • Cool Facts