I have a small amount of first-hand experience of searching for Bobolink nests during a study of the effects of habitat fragmentation on nesting success. My impression is that Bobolink nests can be extremely difficult to find, and I would discourage attempts to find a Bobolink nest for the purpose of casual observation. Adult Bobolinks have several behaviors that make nest finding difficult, including:
* Male activity is only loosely associated with nest locations. A male can be activity singing in one area, actively foraging in another, and with their nest in yet another area entirely, within an overall area of several acres.
* Female Bobolinks can walk for tens of yards, both to and from their nests, making the location at which a female lands only a loose indicator of where her nest actually is.
* Localizing a nest is potentially best done by flushing a female from her nest (so that she has no time to walk away before taking flight). Flushing birds of their nests is a standard methodology for grassland bird researchers, using a rope dragged through the grass between two people walking parallel lines.
In summary, just finding a Bobolink nest can take a substantial amount of time (hours), and cause major damage to habitat in the general vicinity of a nest (and potentially result in destruction of the nest). Personally, I think that the potential costs to attempting to find a nest would on average outweigh any benefits. Having written that, the nests of some individual birds are much easier to find than would be typical for a species, although I cannot think of any way to predict from birds’ behavior when a nest could be easily found (except maybe when the nestlings are so old and loud that they would be fledging imminently).
From: <bounce-124741359-3494022...> <bounce-124741359-3494022...> On Behalf Of Susan Henne
Sent: Monday, June 29, 2020 5:05 PM
To: CAYUGABIRDS-L <CAYUGABIRDS-L...>
Subject: [cayugabirds-l] Bobolinks
For almost 10 days, there has been a male Bobolink in a meadow in front of my house. I would assume there is a nest in the thick of the tall grass as his vocalizations usually get a busy response. I have yet to see or ID a female or young. The grass is tall and quite dense so maybe this will be the secret to their successful brood. Has anyone had experience observing nestlings? Can anyone suggest some good resources about their behavior?