I cannot imagine not hearing the beautiful, bubbly melody of Bobolinks each spring as I adore these special grassland birds. I knew of some reliable open fields close to the cottage so this past week I set aside some time to seek Bobolinks to enjoy their company. It was more challenging than I expected, but as the week progressed, I had some memorable moments with them, as well as with some of the other "usual suspects", including this hilarious Red-winged Blackbird who showed some serious attitude!
It took some driving around on that first day to find only one or two males willing to show themselves, as most of them remained hidden in the long grass, but this fellow was the bravest:
Another male along the same road also gave me good views. The Bobolink is the only bird in North America that is black underneath and white on the back:
Even though the Bobolinks were more distant than I had hoped for, I was still very pleased to have seen and heard as many as I did, wrapping up the day with a bug-filled sunset off the dock:
The following day turned out to be the highlight of my BOBO quest, with two very different encounters during a run to Carden as I tailored my route with the hopes of finding more Bobolinks. The first crazy encounter was with this handsome male on a fence post, and totally expecting him to fly off as I slowly pulled up next to him, he did not!
Deciding he wasn't going to leave right away, I managed to crawl over to the passenger side of the car to get closer views of him as he searched for nibblies on the post:
Quite an odd position to see him in!
His white rump and scapulars are in stark contrast to his black face and underparts:
He presented great views of his straw-coloured nape:
He struck a classic BOBO pose as he called:
Bobolinks have an incredibly long migration route to their wintering grounds in southern South America, a round trip clocks in at approximately 20,000 kilometres! The male Bobolink moults into a striped brown plumage before fall migration, but for now he sure is an attention-grabber in his dapper breeding plumage!
But my day wasn't over as I continued home to the cottage via more fields of Bobolinks when I discovered some males bathing in a puddle, my next crazy encounter for the day:
This particular male wasn't part of the bathing group...
...but this male was, as he struggled to put his damp feathers back in order!
Fluffing them up:
...still not quite right:
...but he was getting there with the feather realignment:
Another wonderful BOBO day that, sadly, was offset by a miserable sunset plagued by millions and millions and millions of feeding mosquitoes that drove me upstairs and inside, grrrrrr:
...but at dawn a few days later, the mosquitoes were much kinder to me (or I ran faster):
Ahead of another Carden run, I returned to where the bathing Bobolinks had been, and on my way saw the local Red-tailed Hawk:
Sure enough, I found a beautiful male Bobolink, bathing in golden lighting just after sunrise:
He called out at his rivals...
...and took to the air:
A Red-winged Blackbird joined the party:
I was out of time so reluctantly left, but almost immediately spotted a distant Coyote...
...and finished my day with another bug-filled sunset
enough already, DIE:
It was only a matter of time before these marvelous viewing opportunities of Bobolink chains (yup, a flock of BOBO's is a "chain"!) were going to run out, and perhaps that day has arrived, as today I went out after sunrise for a few hours and found that the males were now hunkered down, distant, and less active, perhaps having already successfully mated with no further need to display?
Time will tell, as I'm not giving up on them yet!