Bird Database


(Dolichonyx oryzivorus)

State of the Birds
At a Glance



Long distance


Strongly Decreasing


Habitat loss and fragmentation, Mowing, Hunting, Pesticides

Conservation Actions

Delay mowing of occupied habitat until end of nesting season


(Dolichonyx oryzivorus)

The Bobolink is probably the grassland bird most familiar to bird enthusiasts in the Granite State. It is boldly-marked, has a distinctive song, and can occur even in Grasslands as small as five acres. As such, there is probably no more fitting an ambassador for the plight of New England’s Grasslands and the birds that rely on them. Both in New Hampshire and across North America, grassland birds are declining more dramatically than any other group, largely as a result of habitat loss.

In the Northeast, habitat initially increased when large tracts of forests were cleared for farmland after European settlement, and these agricultural habitats – primarily hayfields – are where Bobolinks remain today.

But farming since the middle-1900s is very different than it was a century earlier, and there is strong economic pressure to maximize yields and the number of acres being farmed. Mowing is by far the greatest threat to Bobolink populations in the Northeast: it destroys nests outright and exposes undamaged ones to predators. As a result, and in conjunction with long-term declines in total agricultural acreage in New Hampshire, Bobolink populations here have declined significantly.

The good news is that there are things one can do. If a Bobolink field is not being managed for maximum hay production, you can delay mowing until after July 31. This gives most birds a chance to rear their young to the point they can safely leave the nest on their own Some farmers are also willing to avoid mowing portions of their fields where Bobolinks are more abundant. There are even programs that compensate farmers for the decline in hay quality that results from later cuts. Some of these are coordinated through the US Department of Agriculture, while others, accomplish the same goals using private grants and donations.

As with many migratory birds, habitat issues on the breeding grounds are only part of the story, and among north American songbirds, Bobolinks are among the farthest travelers out there. They spend the winter in the South American pampas, where habitat loss is just as big a threat as it is here. Along with intensified agriculture in South America come pesticides, and while some chemicals applied to control insects can affect Bobolinks, the species is a direct target as well. Because they consume seeds and travel in large flocks, Bobolinks are viewed as a pest by rice farmers and intentionally poisoned.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count