A bobolink sings in the city

Early yesterday evening while planting onion sets in the backyard, I heard a bobolink. It is such a joyful sound, more poignant in knowing the species is declining. These splendid New World blackbirds nest in fields where their reproduction is often disrupted by agricultural practices.

Past a few houses to the west of ours, the landscape opens into some savannah-like parkland, where a migrating bobolink might incline to pause. In a lifetime of birding, this is the first time I have heard one in a place where I lived. It gives me hope.

During the spring and summer, bobolinks can be seen and heard in tallgrass prairie, hay fields and meadows across the northern U.S. and southern Canada from the Eastern seaboard through the Great Lakes region and west to the Rocky Mountains.

Here in Ontario they often share habitat with eastern meadowlarks and savannah sparrows. A good population can be found in fields around Luther Marsh Wildlife Management Area. For example, from the main gate walk west around the north side of the reservoir for about 20 minutes to find a large meadow with numerous bobolinks.

The species is threatened and eligible for habitat protection in Ontario. For more information, with some surprising details about bobolink migration and other behaviour, read the Ministry of Natural Resources fact sheet.

Thanks to musicofnature.org for this video.

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