ARTISTS AND BIRDS
"The Amazing Migrant"
In North America, the Bobolink is a creature of agriculture fields, grasslands, and meadows. They are birds that spend the summers breeding and raising the young along the boarders of southern Canada and the northern parts of the United States. When breeding, the male’s color is a striking black underneath and white, black and a touch of yellow on top. When raising the young, Bobolinks consume vast numbers of insects.
When summer ends, to escape the cold that is sure to come, Bobolinks make an amazing migration flight of 6,000 to 10,000 miles one way to spend the winters in Bolivia and Argentina. This is not an easy route chosen and used over eons of time. They cross large bodies of water, and must always be on the lookout for what’s to eat when they do stop. The Bobolinks will gather into groups of thousands to roost at night. In Bolivia two of the night roosts had a total population of 130,000 birds, and in Argentina it was recorded that one large Bobolinks'evening roost had 500,000 birds. In South America, the vast flocks of Bobolinks are a significant concern to farmers when they stop by their rice fields.
When viewed individually, a Bobolink is a beautiful, striking bird. But from the point of view of a rice farmer, seeing huge flocks of Bobolinks could spell disaster rather than beauty. Birds are survivors. It will be interesting to see if the Bobolink changes behavior to get along in today’s world. We can learn so much from watching birdlife. Bobolinks have been seen in northern Utah recently. If we are lucky, we may see them passing through on their long trip to South America this fall.
Brenda Rusnell is the artist for the Bobolink. If you have questions about birds or the monthly Red Cliffs Audubon Meetings and Field Trips, call 435 673-0996.