Dolichonyx oryzivorus
Bobolink specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A strangely-patterned sparrow-sized (6-8 inches) bird, the male Bobolink in summer plumage is most easily identified by its black head and breast, buff-brown nape, light-gray rump patch, and large white wing bars. In its winter plumage, the male Bobolink loses much of striking coloration, becoming mottled brown above and tan below with a brown-striped head. Female Bobolinks resemble winter males. The Bobolink breeds across a large part of southern Canada and the northern United States. This species is a long-distance migrant, wintering in southern South America. Migrating Bobolinks pass southward along the coast of the southeastern U.S. before continuing south to South America via Jamaica. In summer, Bobolinks breed in grasslands, prairie, and, more recently, agricultural fields. During the winter, this species utilizes habitats similar to those inhabited during the summer in the pampas region of South America. Bobolinks primarily eat seeds, grains, and insects. Most North American birdwatchers never visit the Bobolink’s winter range in South America. However, this species is relatively easy to observe during the summer months as it forages for food on the ground below tall grasses or on the grass stalks themselves. Bobolinks are most active during the day.

DC Information

Transient in May and mid-August to late September; more common in autumn than in spring. In migration inhabits fields and marshes. The male is black and buff with a white rump; the female is tawny buff, streaked with brown above.

Specimen Information

This record may be for the juvenile on the top right.
Date:  5/17/1888
Collected By:  John R Massie
Locality:  Laurel, MD
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  176255
The bird on the left is a male, and the bird at the bottom right is a female.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC50604 Dolichonyx oryzivorus (Bobolink)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC50607 Dolichonyx oryzivorus (Bobolink)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC50608 Dolichonyx oryzivorus (Bobolink)