Join MMRG’s Birding for Bobolinks, coming on June 14th, 2022, 7:00-9:00am at Leary Field and Forest (451 Hornetown Road, Farmington, NH). Our Land Agent, Veronica Bodge, will lead the group as we scan the field looking for these unique, striking birds. Veronica has completed research on bobolinks at the University of New Hampshire, and will be able to share her detailed knowledge and identification of these birds.

A grassland-obligate bird species, bobolinks require expansive, grassy fields to search for mates (making Leary Field the perfect place to spot them!) Female bobolinks require tall grasses to nest in in order to provide enough protection for their fledglings.

Each year, bobolinks travel nearly 12,000 miles from their winter homes in Central and South America in order to breed in our fields right here in New England! During migration they typically begin their journey in large flocks, sometimes numbering in the thousands. 

Male bobolinks are strikingly good-looking. With their black and white tuxedo-like back and yellow cap, it is easy to spot them in a field. You can see them perched on tall grass stems, or chasing after the females that have beautiful yellow and brown plumage. Along with their good looks, the males have a very unique call that sounds similar to R2D2 from Star Wars!

Unfortunately, bobolink populations are in decline due to habitat loss and climate change. Farming in New England has declined significantly in the last 80 years, and mowing patterns have become more frequent in the few fields there are left. However, new projects are being introduced to protect grasslands as vital habitat for many species. 

One of these projects is The Bobolink Project, a collaboration between Mass Audubon, Audubon Vermont, and New Hampshire Audubon. The Bobolink Project uses community donations to provide financial support to farmers who modify their mowing schedules, allowing grassland birds to breed. This approach helps defray the costs that farmers otherwise face by delaying harvest. In 2021, the project protected over 1,000 acres with bird-friendly agriculture! 

If you’d like to check out these cool birds, make sure to join us on June 14th! Registration is NOT required for this event – but don’t forget your binoculars! 

 

Header image credit: Cephas, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons