The real surprise was that these were all males!! There was not a single female among them! I am not sure whether males and females migrate separately and will try to research whether that is true. These are beautiful and fascinating birds to me and i want to review here some interesting facts about them:
---They are probably the songbird champions for migration, annually traveling some 12,000 miles from their nesting grounds in the north U.S. and south Canada to their wintering site in lower South america.
---They molt twice a year, once in spring with the male developing their classy black front and white back, with the striking yellow-gold nape at the back of their head. They are the only songbird with a completely black front with a white back This look has been described as a “reverse tuxedo” appearance. (see pictures below). The females are a Buffy yellow in spring and fall, and the males look very similar to the females in the fall.
---They are in the blackbird family, and the Species name is Orizyvous, meaning rice-eating.
--In migration they are able to orient themselves to the earth’s magnetic field with iron oxide in hair bristles inside their nose cavity. They also orient to the stars on clear nights.
---they are day eaters, but may feed at night on starry nights during migration.
--they are rice, grain and seed eaters, but feed the young on insects because of protein needs.
The presence of these birds here in no doubt accidental, as part of their migration. There have been reports of breeding birds in western North Carolina, but not in our area, although I have, for the past few years, been suspicious that they breed here in The Field because of sightings of female birds here in spring and fall. But the absence of observed nests and male birds diminishes that speculation.
If you want to see Bobolinks, the best place I can recommend is the Savannah National Wildlife Preserve near Savannah, Ga. Go in early May and you will see thousands in the old rice fields which are now a part of the Preserve. These birds have diminished in number in recent years and are on the Watch List. the primary problem in North America has bee loss of nesting areas due to land use changes, shrinkage of hay production, etc. In South America, these birds are shot, and captured and sold as pets..
I saw and photographed these surprise visitors for 2 days, then they were gone on to the nesting sites further north. Their visit was a true delight and blessing for me. I hope you enjoy the pics below as much as I enjoyed getting them!!