Species of the Month: Bobolink (January 2022)

January 26, 2022


  • Breeding male Bobolinks are predominantly black with a white back and rump, and a creamy nape (back of the neck area). 
  • Females and other non-breeding males are warm brown, with dark brown streaks on the back and sides. They have thicker brown stripes on the crown while the nape of the neck is unstreaked on the nape of the neck.


  • Tall grasslands, uncut pastures, overgrown fields and meadows, and prairies. They can also be found in rice fields.
  • Nesting - Bobolinks situate their nests on the ground (or occasionally just above it). The nests are typically inconspicuous amongst dense grass and weeds. Slight depressions in the ground provide the perfect resting spot to build a shallow open cup of grass and weed stems, lined with finer grasses.


Insects and seeds are the most common food of choice for Bobolinks. Insects, arachnids and myriapods (centipedes, millipedes) make up the majority of their summer diet. They also eat a lot of grains, grasses and seeds of weeds. During their migration they feed more heavily on grains and in winter months in the tropics they will also consume some berries.

Did you know?

  • An old name for the bobolink was the 'rice bird' species as it prefers to feed on cultivated grains.
  • This songbird travels over 20,000 km between their wintering grounds in southern South America and their breeding grounds in southern Canada and Northern U.S. each year. This is one of the world’s longest songbird migrations!

Bobolinks and EBC

Despite Bobolinks declining status, they have been spotted on 19 of EBC's nature reserves.


Due to the lack of nesting habitat, their conservation status has deteriorated dramatically in recent decades. Bobolinks are now considered Threatened species in Ontario and are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act.

Support EBC acquire more Ontarian land and preserve these dwindling landscapes permanently.