Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Bobolink
 
 

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Species Acct.
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Turkeys
Quail
Rails
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Swifts
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Shrikes
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Kinglets
Gnatcatchers
Thrushes
Mimids
Starlings
Pipits
Waxwings
NW Warblers
Tanagers
NWSparrows
Cardinalines
Icterids
Finches
OWSparrows

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  Order Passeriformes
   Suborder Passeres - Oscines (Song Birds)
      Parvorder Passerida (Superfamily Passeroidea)
         Nine-primaried Oscines
            Family Icteridae - New World Blackbirds, Orioles, Meadowlarks

  Passerines are generally smaller than non-passerines. They have a perching foot with three toes directed forward and the one backward with locking tendons to facilitate perching when their tendons are flexed. All passerines scratch by bringing the foot over the wing. Incubation ranges from 11 -21 days. Young hatch blind with little or no down and spend 10-15 days or so in the nest - development is rapid and parents provide care beyond fledging.
Oscines are passerines with complex syringeal musculature used to produce varied vocalizations. 
Passeroids include the Nine-primaried Oscines, pipits, Old World sparrows, and weavers.
Nine-primaried Oscines include New World warblers, icterids (New World blackbirds), emberizines (buntings), tanagers, cardinalines (cardinals), and fringillines (finches).
Icterids are small to medium-sized nine-primaried oscines of the New World. They have a stout and straight bill, often thrust into the food source, then opened. Some are fruit eaters while others forage on the ground. Their predominant plumage color is usually black and they have strong legs and feet. They form mixed species flocks in winter and many species are social - some nesting in colonies. 
   
     
  Bobolink, Dolichonyx oryzivorus
 
Cornell     USGS     Wiki   ToL     EoL
        MIGRANT - Uncommon - rare / Uncommon
            MEADOWS, RICE FIELDS, CULTIVATED GRAIN AND HAY FIELDS, MARSH
MORE PICTURES
 
   The male Bobolink is distinctive. The male is black with a white rump and scapulars. There is a straw-colored nape. Females are a dull brown with a pale nape and lores. Non-breeding birds are brownish yellow with streaks on the side and pale lores. They are almost always found in flocks during migration.
Bobolink
     
Bobolink male. North Beach
   
  RANGE: Bobolinks breed from Nova Scotia, west through southern Canada to eastern British Columbia, south through Idaho, and east through Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and northern Illinois to Ohio and Pennsylvania. A few may nest in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. They winter across the pampas in eastern South America, mostly east of the Andes.
  BREEDING: Polygynous. One brood. These are the feared "rice birds" of the plantation south, descending upon crops by the thousands and decimating whole fields. Today, the population is much reduced due to earlier cutting of hayfields and the past slaughter of Bobolinks for food and as pests. (The "four and twenty blackbirds" baked in a pie were actually Old World thrushes, the European Blackbird. However, many "blackbird" pies were made in the early south using rice birds...)
   Bobolinks nest in a dense cover in a depression. The nest is built with grass and forbs and lined with finer grass and is well concealed. It is built by the female. She lays 5-6 (3-7) eggs which she incubates for 11-13 days. Young are altricial and fledge in 8-14 days. They are fed by both parents.
  DIET: Their food consists of insects and spiders and seeds. They concentrate on grain during migration. They also eat fruit and nectar in winter. Young are fed insects. They forage on the ground or in grass and weed stocks. They usually forage in flocks.
  VOICE: Their song is a bubbling, jangling warble of short notes and may be heard among flocks feeding in the spring. "Bobolink bobolink spink spank spink."
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook. Kiawah - occasional spring and fall.
      Coastal - common transient. Hilton Head - fairly common migrant. Cape Romain - common spring, uncommon fall migrant.
         Huntington Beach
- rare May, August - October.
      Caw Caw - fairly common spring and fall migrant. ACE - occasional spring and fall migrant.
   P&G: Very common migrant on immediate coast. 7 April - 13 June, 11 July - 6 December. Accidental vagrant in summer and accidental in winter.
   Avendex: 15 records, May - June, August - September, January. Maxima: 1000, Charleston, May 3, 1982; 1000, Fort Moultrie, September 8, 1979.
   Potter: Fairly common to common from mid-April to late May and mid-August to mid-October. Males usually migrate before females in the spring (but I've often seen mixed flocks). More numerous along the coast in the fall. Look in hay meadows, grain fields, and marshes.
  ●   Uncommon. I have seen flocks feeding in the salt marsh in spring though they probably prefer fresh water areas and grass lands. They should be found around impoundments and old fields in the ACE Basin area. In April 2007, I saw two males in the myrtles behind the dunes on North Beach in the maritime shrub-scrub habitat provided by our wax myrtles (pictures above).
   Bobolinks are the classical "rice birds" dreaded by early rice farmers. Flocks could decimate entire rice fields. The birds apparently make a good bird "pie" as well. Populations have declined in recent years.
   
   

Migration studies - nocturnal migrants

   Bobolinks are of interest to migratory physiologists because they are nocturnal migrants that cross the equator (our emberizine buntings/sparrows remain in the Northern Hemisphere - they are not really "long distance" migrants). They also exist in captivity as seed eaters. However, Bobolinks have proved difficult to capture and few studies have been made of their behavior in captivity.
   The favored species for study in Europe have all been trans-equatorial migrants (especially Old World warblers). Unlike our emberizines and the Bobolink, they are "weichfressern" - feeding on soft-bodied insect food. Large ant pupae are available in pet stores in Europe and they provide food for these species in captivity. A few studies of New World trans-equatorial migrant thrushes (also "weichfressern") have been made and a suitable diet appears to have been concocted to keep them alive in captivity.
       
    Banner - Bobolinks. North Beach.
       
       
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