Bobolink. This joyful little songbird has a name that’s fun to say—and they’re even more fun to look at. Male bobolinks are said to look like they put their clothes (or a tuxedo) on backwards. They have white backs and black underbellies. With a bubbling song, they’re also enjoyable to listen to—if you are lucky enough to spot one.
Unfortunately, their numbers have been on a steady decline across the United States since the late 1960’s. International bird conversation group Partners in Flight has listed them as a “common bird in steep decline” in recent years. In the Northeast alone, there has been a dramatic 75 percent decrease in the bobolink population within the past 40 years, according to the Breeding Bird Survey.
Bobolinks are disappearing because their habitat is, too. They make their nests in native grasslands which are harder and harder to find as new developments pop up. Instead, they now settle mostly in hayfields. The problem there is that the hay harvest typically occurs in mid-June, around the time the bobolinks’ eggs hatch. If the nests aren’t destroyed altogether as the fields are plowed down, the eggs or baby birds are exposed to predators, with little to no chance of survival.
Ready for some happy news?
Conservationists are hard at work, encouraging farmers to hold off on cutting their hay until the bobolink nesting season is over. And this season, the beautiful birds have been spotted right here on Wapping Road in Portsmouth!
We’re proud to maintain our grasslands in a way that attracts these wild birds and excited they’ve chosen to nest here.
The bobolink has one of the longest migrations of all the songbirds. Although they accumulate more than 12,500 air miles during migration each year, bobolinks often return to the same fields to nest year after year. We can only hope they’ll come back to visit us again.
Your experience here at Greenvale just got a little more unique, thanks to our feathered friends. We invite you to take advantage of this unique chance to bird watch.