Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 08/28/2016

Photo taken on June 25, 2016

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side view
SW of Calgary
Anne Elliott
Dolichonyx oryzivorus
16–18 cm (6.3–7.1 in) long
fence post
25 June 2016

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Handsome male Bobolink / Dolichonyx oryzivorus

Handsome male Bobolink / Dolichonyx oryzivorus
Easy to identify by the straw-coloured patch on the back of the head - IF you are lucky enough to find one.

Took this photo on 25 June 2016, when I drove SW of the city to possibly meet friends. No one was sure how bad the weather was going to be, as the forecast was for rain and thunderstorms. It had rained overnight, so everywhere was soaking wet. Normally, on a day like that, I stay home, but I'm really glad I did go, especially as I was able to find a Bobolink again. Or, perhaps I should say it found me. Three times, when I had been photographing a particular pair of Mountain Bluebirds, I had heard a certain persistent call, turned around, and there was a Bobolink sitting on a fence post across the road. It just kept up this call until I stopped what I was doing, crossed the road, and started taking photos of him, as if to say: "Hey, take my photo, too!"

I didn't think any friends were going to turn up, as I hadn't seen anything that looked like a small convoy of cars. Then suddenly, one single car came around a distant corner and stopped. Three people got out - Andrew, Tony and Howard. Three people who are excellent birders and who didn't let the weather keep them from doing what they love.

I followed them slowly as far as Brown-Lowery Provincial Park, where the day's walk was supposed to take place, stopping to look at various birds along the way, Once there, we parted ways, as I didn't want hours of walking in mud and dripping trees. Instead, I wandered for a few minutes near the parking lot and then I returned to the Bluebirds, where the Bobolink reappeared and repeated his behavior, giving me another chance for photos.

"Perched on a grass stem or displaying in flight over a field, breeding male Bobolinks are striking. No other North American bird has a white back and black underparts (some have described this look as wearing a tuxedo backwards). Added to this are the male’s rich, straw-colored patch on the head and his bubbling, virtuosic song. As summer ends he molts into a buff and brown female-like plumage. Though they’re still fairly common in grasslands, Bobolink numbers are declining." From AllAboutBirds.

"The Bobolink inhabits Canada's grassland and agricultural areas from the interior of British Columbia to the east coast. Relative to 1970 levels, this species has shown a large decrease across most of its range, with the exception of the Prairie Potholes Bird Conservation Region where populations have changed little. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada assessed the Bobolink as Threatened in 2010 (COSEWIC 2010d). This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada."