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Friday, July 20, 2007

Bobolink Bonanza

Bobolink male

Here at Bobolink Farm, our 45 acres NH property, we have a bumper crop of Bobolinks. We estimate we may have as many as 75 flying around our field right now, consisting of adults and young. Some are the ones that nested here, and some may have come in from other hayfileds that have been cut early, (they may have lost their nestlings because of this.) It's especially thrilling to see the Bobolinks here, because Bobolinks face declining populations in New England due to of loss of habitat. We're helping their populations because we provide them with good habitat. Most importantly, we do not let the farmer who hays our fields, cut the fields before the Bobolinks fledge the young out of their nests around mid-July. Usually our farmer cuts the fields at the end of August since, in addition to nesting Bobolinks, we have a nesting a American Bittern in the field.
We take our morning walk around the edge of the field and it's so beautiful to see the Bobolinks, making their lyrical "plinking" call notes, and settling in the grasses to feed. We get such a deep sense of satisfaction, knowing we are helping a species in trouble and maintaining this grassland habitat. Years ago, when New England was a booming farm economy, grasslands were prevalent. Now, much of New England has grown back to forest and it's rare to find big fields, especially ones that are not cut until the end of the summer.
The male Bobolinks will soon molt from their black-and-white breeding plumage and resemble the streaked, staw-colored females and young. The flocks will stay here until they depart in early fall, for their long migration to wintering areas in South America. We'll miss them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do love seeing the first Bobolinks of the year! I usually find them in the fields at a local environmental education center where our bird club holds an annual event in mid-May.

I recently visited another nature center where I once found several Bobolinks with their young. This year, though, I saw only a single bird, and no babies. I was told that Bobolinks aren't seen there much anymore. I wonder if it's because many of the surrounding farms are abandoned and overgrown. The nature center doesn't mow its fields until late in the season, but maybe the habitat has become too fragmented.