The Bobolink is a fairly small bird about 5 to 7 inches in length. Males have a black chest and belly with yellowish patches on their heads and necks. Their tails are black with many white stripes in the feathers. Like many other birds, females are plainer: they are light-tan all over with a dark brown stripe around the eyes. Bobolinks are songbirds; they can be heard in spring singing to attract mates or mark territory. Their name comes from the sounds that they make--the song of a bobolink is warbly and rhythmic.
Bobolinks are found in grasslands (praries), marshes, and moist weedy fields. However, they are migratory birds, flying from their homes in the USA and parts of Canada as far south as South America for the winter months! This means they have one of the longest migratory routes of any songbird. Along the way they stop at night to rest in haystacks or tall grasses before continuing south. The bobolink eats mostly nuts, seeds, and insects. If they can find it, this bird will also eat grains planted by humans such as rice and wheat.
Male bobolinks sing and display their feathers to attract females for mating. In May, males return first to the breeding grounds and prepare for the females' arrival. Sometimes the male will sing every few minutes for hours, flying in patterns and attracting attention. Once mating takes place, the bright feathers of the male darken to a medium brown shade. The female builds a nest near the ground, often in a hollow or near tall grass where the eggs will be well hidden. She lays 5 or 6 eggs in June and guards them herself until they hatch in 2-3 weeks. Young bobolinks learn to walk before they can fly and leave the nest immediately.