Melodious Traveler

Bobolink at the Horicon Marsh

Bobolink

“The return of the birds is a record of daily increasing pleasure, but it is only a quickening and a promise until the glad day in May when we go to the meadows and find that the Bobolinks have come.  Then the cup of summer gladness seems full.”  –Florence A. Merriam, American ornithologist and nature writer

“The meadow is all bespattered with melody.  The Bobolink touched his harp within a vase of liquid melody, and when he lifted it out, the notes fell like bubbles from the trembling strings.” –Henry David Thoreau

Merriam and Thoreau write poetic descriptions of the unique and complex Bobolink song. Personally, I think the Bobolink’s song is reminiscent of the voice of R2-D2 in the original Star Wars movie of 1977.  You can listen to multiple recordings of this melodious bird at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site and see if the songs bring out the poet in you.

Bobolink at the Horicon Marsh

Back View of a Bobolink

Bobolinks are not only melodious, but they are also impressive migrants. They travel about 12,500 miles to and from Argentina every year. Throughout their lifetime, they may travel the equivalent of 4 or 5 times around the circumference of the earth.  Bobolinks are the only North American bird with a white back and black underparts.

Muskrat at the Horicon Marsh

Muskrat

The muskrat is not melodious and does not travel the distance that the Bobolink travels.  However, muskrats are significant rodents inhabiting the Horicon Marsh.  You may think “significant rodent” is an oxymoron, but muskrats keep areas of the marsh open for aquatic birds. They eat cattails and other aquatic vegetation.  This one had created a small channel through the vegetation to a muddy bank where he dove underwater to enter his burrow.

Gadwall at the Horicon Marsh

Gadwall

The male Gadwall reveals handsome coloring as he preens, while his mate enjoys a bath.

Female Gadwall at the Horicon Marsh

Female Gadwall

She dries off by rapidly flapping her wings as she rises out of the water.

Female Gadwall at the Horicon Marsh

A melodious traveler, a significant rodent, and the flapping of wings made it another memorable day at the Horicon Marsh.

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