BOBOLINKS: MIGRATORY SONGBIRDS OF ABACO & THE BAHAMAS
Occasionally vacation plans disrupt the flow in the smoothest of operations. A smear of suntan cream in the well-oiled machinery of a blog. Or a well-oiled operator over-sampling the local produce – wine, in these parts. So it pays to follow the Blue Peter principle of ‘Here’s one I prepared earlier’. Except regrettably I didn’t do it properly and have been struggling to unpick some html on an iPhone. Don’t ever try it. Luckily the ever-resourceful Mrs RH brought an iPad along. Much less fiddly. So I am now able to feature the BOBOLINK (Dolichonyx oryzivorus), a small New World blackbird
14 ESSENTIAL BOBOLINK FACTS TO ENTERTAIN YOUR FAMILY & FRIENDS
- Adults weigh about 1 ounce (28 g)
- The collective name for a group of Bobolinks is a ‘chain’
- One bird was tracked flying 12,000 miles (19,000 km) in one year
- A bobolink has been tracked covering 1,100 miles (1,800 km) in one day
- The birds migrate in flocks, feeding on cultivated grains and rice, which may annoy farmers
- Despite their flying stamina Bobolinks have rarely been sighted in Europe
- In South American they are known as “ricebirds”
- In Jamaica they are sometimes eaten and are called “butterbirds”
- Bobolinks forage on or near the ground eating seeds and insects.
- Their breeding habitats are open grassy fields across North America
- Males are often polygynous, and take their vows shamefully lightly
- Females lay 5 to 6 eggs in a cup-shaped nest on the ground, hidden in dense vegetation
- Both parents feed the young, except when the male has some important singing to do (often)
- Although currently rated “of least concern” their numbers are declining due to loss of habitat
WAYS IN WHICH THE BOBOLINK HAS INSPIRED ARTISTS (despite its unpromising name)
Emily Dickinson wrote several poems about the bird, including “The nicest bird, I always think / Is the tiny Bobolink / To me, it never had occurred / Thus to name a songstrel bird” *
The Bobolink is also mentioned in a song called Evelina, from a musical called “Bloomer Girl” (me neither): “Evelina, won’t ya ever take a shine to that moon? / Evelina, ain’t ya bothered by the Bobolink’s tune?”**
The Bobolink is name-checked by Nabokov; in a poem by Sophia Jewett, An Exile’s Garden (1910); and it has a fly-on part in a film “The Mouse on the Moon”
Finally, a wonderful video showcasing the bubbling song of the bobolink (Credit: Themusicofnature)
* and ** I can’t be sure which of these is made up. Maybe neither. Or both.
3,000+ Bobolinks were seen on Grand Bahama 20 Sep. They are probably on their way south through the Bahamas right now, It is sometimes possible to go out on a clear night and hear their “plink” call as they pass over head.
Hi Tony, that’s interesting – do they fly in one massed flock, I wonder; in smaller groups; or more as individuals with a single purpose? Looking at the range map, I wonder what it is about that very specific area of central South America that attracts them. Climate and open grasslands, I would guess. Thanks for the contact – any further expert info welcome! RH
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Thanks so much for the autumnal link. I can’t really work your wondrous works into this Abaco-related blog – but you are plugged where my virtual beehive lives, on the indolently-curated UK- & Euro-centric http://rollingharbourlife.wordpress.com Meanwhile, like the recoms for autumny things to do in W London (Osterley, WWT) RH
I love bobolinks! Their song sounds so tinkly!
Beyond cute! The name is supposed to be an onomatopoeia but I’m not hearing it. I think you may be onto something with Bubblytwink, though…
Bubblytwinks… I hear it!