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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Bobolink -- Dolichonyx oryzivorus

RANGE: Breeds from southern interior British Columbia across southern Canada and central Ontario south to eastern Oregon, central Colorado, central Illinois, and central New Jersey. Winters in South America.

STATUS: Locally common, although numbers are decreasing in the Northeast due to a decline in agriculture; extending range in the West because of irrigation.

HABITAT: Prefers large open fields of tall grass, alfalfa, clover, or grain crops, but also inhabits wet meadows, ungrazed to lightly grazed mixed-grass prairies, and fallow fields. During migration, frequents marshes and grain fields.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Large expanses of grassland or forb cover.

NEST: Builds nest on the ground, usually in a hollow scraped in the ground or in a natural depression, rarely above ground attached to plant stems. Always locates nest in dense stands of tall vegetation such as hay, alfalfa, clover, or thick growths of weeds.

FOOD: Prefers to forage in cultivated grain fields, gleaning insects, seeds of weeds and grasses, and waste grain from standing vegetation and on the ground.

REFERENCES: Beal 1900, Bent 1958, DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Johnsgard 1979.

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