This section provides additional guidance on how to observe Bobolink on your property and the importance of all the information we are recording. The following information is specific to Bobolink, however a similar approach can be followed for the Eastern Meadowlark.

Essential Information to Record

  • Location of Bobolink (either geographic coordinates or the address and detailed description of location within the property)
  • Number of Bobolink
  • Habitat (pasture, hayfield, abandoned/retired field or meadow)
  • Date

Optional

  • Photo
  • Time
  • Weather
  • Sex
  • Evidence of bird behaviours and breeding observed

When to survey: May 15 to July 15

Bobolink breeding season extends from May 15 to July 15. They are more visible at this time of year. Bobolinks can be observed all day but are most active for the first 5 hours starting at dawn (during this time of year dawn is ~5:00 am in Southern Ontario). Bobolink are more likely to be seen on days with low winds and precipitation, that have clear visibility (including cloudy days). Bobolinks are less likely to be seen during rainy, windy and/or foggy conditions because they will be less active and difficult to detect.

Where to survey:

Bobolink prefer:

  • Grasslands that are at least 10 acres in size including:
    • hayfields
    • pastures
    • meadows
    • retired or abandoned fields
  • Mixed grass and broadleaf herbaceous covers (such as timothy and red clover) over more traditional legume crops (alfalfa).
  • Square patches of grassland with less ‘edges’ than long, narrow patches (these edges can provide travel routes for predators).

Bobolinks do not nest in annual row crops such as corn or soybean.

Survey Equipment:

  • Binoculars
  • Pencil and field sheet
  • GPS (optional)
  • Camera (optional)

Survey Guidelines

These guidelines are adapted from an ecological survey guide. For the purposes of this project, these are only suggestions for the information you can record and we understand this may not be feasible while performing your farm management activities.

  • Location (either geographic coordinates or within your field and detailed description of location within the property)
  • Bird observation (See Bobolink Identification and Behaviours)
    • Type of observation (sight or heard)
    • Bird species (Bobolink or Eastern Meadowlark)
    • Bird behaviour (See “Bobolink Identification and Behaviours”)
  • Field details
    • Habitat type (pasture, hayfield, abandoned/retired field, meadow)
    • Crop/forage type
    • Optional: Field dimensions/area (ex: 500 m by 300 m)
  • Land use management
    • Activity: hayfield cut, livestock added or removed
    • Date of activity
    • Optional: Number and type of livestock in field
    • Optional: Crop rotation, Type of grazing (continuous or rotational grazing)
    • Date
    • Time of day

Locating Bobolink nests

You may want to know where Bobolinks have nested in order to avoid harming their young. To locate Bobolink nesting areas, watch for Bobolink activity in grasslands from late May to early July. The adult Bobolinks may be carrying insects, grasses and faecal sacs in their beaks. Females protect their nests by landing on the ground a far distance from their nest, then walking through the grasses to arrive at the nest. If Bobolinks appear agitated, you are likely near their nest.

Bobolink nestings

Photo credit: Gerald Morris