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Washington Irving called the Bobolink "the happiest bird of our spring...he rises and sinks with the breeze, pours forth a succession of rich tinkling notes ..." Bobolinks nest in hayfields and grasslands, returning north each spring, all the way from southern South America. Listen to more songs of the Bobolink at The Macaulay Library. Learn about the conservation of all grassland birds from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote!
[Bobolink song, a full example of a longer song presentation]
With its bubbly, jangling song, like a meadowlark plucking a banjo, the Bobolink has long been admired across North America. [Bobolink song]
Washington Irving, 19th-Century author of tales like Rip Van Winkle, called the Bobolink “the happiest bird of our spring . . . he rises and sinks with the breeze, pours forth a succession of rich tinkling notes, crowding upon another like the outpouring melody of the Skylark…[Bobolink song or Bobolink song running behind whole quotation] Sometimes he pitches from the summit of a tree, begins his song as soon as he gets upon the wing, and flutters tremulously down to earth, as if overcome with ecstasy at his own music.” [Bobolink song]
As they have for centuries, Bobolinks return north each spring, to nest in hayfields and grasslands, coming all the way from southern South America. But today, only 2% of the native, tallgrass prairie that existed in the 1800s still remains. [Farmland pivot irrigation sound] Bobolinks are in steep decline—one of the unintended consequences of haying, burning, and overgrazing. Farmland conservation programs provide the best hope for these remarkable singers.
I’m Mary McCann.
Song of the Bobolink provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Bobolink recorded by D.S. Herr at Malheur.
Irrigation system recorded by C. Peterson.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2007 Tune In to Nature.org Revised for June 2009 / 2021
ID# 061807BOBOKPLU BOBO-01b-2009-06-15-MM
Washington Irving quotation from Baily, William L. Our Own Birds: A Familiar Natural History of the Birds of the United States. Philadelphia, J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1869, p. 31.