Spotlight on Bobolinks
Old Robert of Lincoln—better known as the Bobolink—used to be a common sight in meadows, hayfields, and pastures throughout much of the northern United States and southern Canada. But grassland birds like the Bobolink are disappearing in the northeastern US, and the decline is largely due to early summer mowing of hayfields during the weeks that birds like Bobolinks are actively nesting.
Nests, eggs, and hatchlings are destroyed by haying machinery, and those adults that do survive the mower blades may not have enough time to complete a re-nesting attempt before migrating south to their wintering grounds. New England’s working farmers, in particular, face financial pressures that force them to mow earlier and more frequently.
But if the latest chapter in the Bobolink’s story proves nothing else, it illustrates that humans are in fact capable of helping a declining species once its natural history is well understood. According to our findings in the Breeding Bird Atlas 2—and unlike the situation in many nearby states—this once declining species has managed a stable increase of its breeding range in Massachusetts.
The Bobolink Project
Mass Audubon has adopted The Bobolink Project to protect grassland birds on working hayfields. Through The Bobolink Project we use donated funds to provide financial assistance to participating farmers to delay their mowing schedules so that nesting grassland birds can successfully raise their young.
Interested in enrolling your farm in The Bobolink Project?
Help us “buy time” for nesting bobolinks!
Where to Find Bobolinks
Want to see some bobolinks? Check out the following Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries.
Click the image below to see a larger version.