The 'Upside Down' Bird

   Today we’re going to take a look at one of our more common migratory songbirds -- the Bobolink. Compared with other birds, the color of a Bobolink male is “upside down” -- the reverse of  most other birds.  Most birds are colored dark above and lighter below for camouflage from predators. The male Bobolink in breeding plumage is black below, with a yellow head and largely white on the wings and upperparts. Other songbirds are either uniform in coloration both above and below, or are lighter below than they are above. This unusual pattern in male Bobolinks lasts only from very early spring until August, at which time they molt into plumage similar to the buff sparrow-like colored female.

   The black beak of the breeding male also changes to the paler color of the female’s beak at this time.  Most of the male’s lighter coloring is on their upper side and top, while their breasts and lower body are colored quite darkly.

   They are actually members of the Blackbird family.  If you’ve ever taken a walk down a country road in May and early June,  you may have noticed a black and white bird flying along singing his bubbly song as it flutters above a hayfield, singing bobolink-spink-spank-spink, and for the most part they only sing when they are flying.

   These birds are long migrants, wintering as far south as Argentina, and winging 5000 miles northward for ...

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