I know what you are thinking, what’s up with the yellow hair? Well, I’m a shining star and I need a hairdo to catch everyone’s attention. Singing is my life. All eyes - especially the ladies' - are on me when I fly in and take the stage. My flock and I travel everywhere together and we often use the stars as our guide through the cool night.
Can you help me save my stage?
The bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) is named after its tinkling and bubbling song. The bird has a black bottom and white back. During the spring the males have a patch of yellow feathers on their head, but lose them before the fall migration. Bobolinks prefer damp meadows and natural prairies, but due to habitat loss, have settled for hayfields. They travel in flocks and forage insects, seeds, and their favorite, rice.
Bobolinks are polyandrous, meaning that a single clutch of eggs from one female may have multiple fathers. When nesting, the males arrive before the females to nesting grounds, competing for land by flying over the fields while singing or by singing and displaying fight stances. It’s a migratory bird and can travel up to 12,500 miles to and from South America. Its population has declined 75% in the last 60 years due to habitat loss and pesticide usage, which reduces insect food sources of the Bobolink.
DID YOU KNOW?
The polyandrous behavior exhibited by the bobolink is unique among birds.
Bobolinks have a long migration distance; they spend winter on the plains of Argentina and Uruguay before returning to our region for summer.
Bobolinks nest on the ground, not in trees, and are very attracted to hayfields for nesting.
IF YOU COULD DO ONE THING TO HELP...
Support local organic farms when possible.
There is a correlation between bird population decline and increased pesticide usage. The bobolink, for example, survives on insects as a crucial portion of its diet, but the use of pesticides in agricultural areas often destroys this food source.
Chicago Wilderness works with two lead partners, Audubon Great Lakes Region
Illinois Audubon Society, to drive bobolink conservation efforts. The lead partners, in turn, coordinate with numerous other organizations across the region. The bobolink conservation effort is part of the Chicago Wilderness Priority Species Focus Area.
Sources: Audubon Great Lakes Region