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Bobolink Reedbird picture


Bobolink Reedbird pictureBobolink Reedbird (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) - 7.25 inches

Bobolink is a "bird of parts." He is no ordinary fellow; lie is the soloist of comic opera in the fields, the Reedbird on toast of the epicure.

In appearance he and his mate are utterly different; but before the summer is past lie changes his costume and doffs the sober colors of the female; not content with all this variety, he changes his voice after the nuptial season, and not another liquid, bubbling note do we get from him when once lie starts in with his monotonous, metallic chink. In spring his colors are patchy.

Head black, nape of the neck corn-yellow; tail and wings black, the tail feathers with pointed tips; middle of back patched or streaked with cream-buff; lower back and upper tail coverts white; a patch of white also on the shoulders; the bill, face, and under parts black. Female marked and streaked like a sparrow; brown streaked with buff above; head dark sepia with a central line of green-buff; lower parts pale yellowish buff graded to buff-white. Nest in the tall grass on the ground, woven of dried grasses.

The birds are very cautious in approaching and leaving the nest, always walking to and from it a little distance, after alighting or before taking wing. Egg gray-white of a bluish cast, speckled with dark brown. The bird is unevenly distributed throughout the eastern United States, and extends west to Utah and Montana. It migrates through Florida and across the West Indies to South America, usually via Cuba and Yucatan.

The Bobolink is indeed a great singer, but the latter part of his song is a species of musical fireworks. He begins bravely enough with a number of well-sustained tones, but presently lie accelerates his time, loses track of his motive, and goes to pieces in a burst of musical scintillations. It is a mad, reckless song-fantasia, an outbreak of pent-up, irrepressible glee. The difficulty in either describing or putting upon paper such music is insurmountable.

One can follow the singer through the first few whistled bars, and then, figuratively speaking, lie lets down the bars and stampedes. I have never been able to "sort out" the tones as they passed at this break-neck speed. Others who desired to record the song have found the thing impracticable. Mr. Clieney writes: "We must wait for some interpreter with the sound-catching skill of a Blind Tom and the phonograph combined, before we may liope to fasten the kinks and twists of this live music-box."

There is, however, not a small part of the Bobolink's music which is comprehensible. The first part of the song usually carries with it a suggestion of the waltz, in tolerably clear whistles set to three-four or nine-eight time.