Category Archives: Nature on the Farm

Bobolinks!

Bobolink
Male Bobolink perched on tall grasses…

 

About a week ago I am out in the pasture watering the cattle when I see this beautiful little fellah.  He is perched on a fence post out in the middle of one of the paddocks.  I watch him as he keeps appearing on this fence post, or a few others near it, day after day.  Yesterday for the first time I spotted two males simultaneously.

 I am not a bird watcher.  But this bird was so distinctive and charming that Marie and I (any my visiting Mother) spent a good hour at the kitchen table looking through bird books until voila, there he was–the male Bobolink.
 
I have heard older neighbors, who have lived in this rural landscape for seventy years or more, talk about Bobolinks with great affection, typically mentioning with excitement fresh sightings of the bird they have had.  Until this I had never seen one.
 
It is exciting for us Up the Lane because the environment we are creating with our rotational and mob grazing of cattle turns out to be ideally suited to the nesting needs of the Bobolink, a bird whose prescence in this area has been declining for nearly a hundred years as less and less land is in tall grass and meadows.  Modern hay-making does not suit the Bobolink for example.  Neither do newly constructed townhouses.
 
 The Bobolink migrates up here in May to nest and raise their young.  In July they return to extensive grasslands in Argentina and southern Brazil.  They build their nests in the tall grasses, preferring timothy and clover (the predominant elements of our pasture Up the Lane).   
 
Here is a link to plenty of information about the Bobolink.  I love the comment of one young reader at that site, apparently researching the Bobolink for a school assignment: “You people sure write a lot…”  http://nationalzoo.si.edu/scbi/MigratoryBirds/Featured_Birds/default.cfm?bird=Bobolink
 
Everyone said we would see a resurgence of wildlife if we farmed this way.  And in the abstract this has always seemed likely.  But to hear the song of this newly present species, to become familiar with how it flies, and now to have read up on its history and migratory patterns and all, is way beyond abstract.  At this point it is personal.  How exciting!
 
 
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