Monday, July 20, 2009

Male Bobolink starting to molt into his non-breeding Basic plumage

Birding at Voice of America (VOA) Park near Mason, OH
...continued from the Henslow's Sparrow post.
Before fall migration coaxes Bobolinks south to their wintering grounds, male Bobolinks start molting into non-breeding Basic plumage. It’s almost like the males shed their formal “tuxedos” for more relaxed and casual traveling clothes. The following male Bobolink is just starting to molt into his Basic plumage. By the time he’s ready to fly south, he will more closely resemble the understated females.

Looking a little scruffy, this male Bobolink
has started molting into his Basic plumage.
He was singing just as sweetly, but maybe
not quite as often as earlier this summer.
He did a lot of calling instead.

In addition to their molt into non-breeding
plumage, male Bobolinks will lose the
dark pigmentation in their bills.

He looks like he's ready to fly south right now!

A female Bobolink perched on a sapling--her
warm caramels and browns are every bit
as appealing as the male's flashy summer
tuxedo. In the fall, the male Bobolink
takes on the female's casual colors.

Sitting in the fading light, the female was gorgeous.
I need to go back and capture her in full sunlight.


Shelley said...

I really like that scruffy look on that male Bobolink!Nice photos!

Anonymous said...

He looks a bit of a scruff bag Kelly, not his normal self.

Ginnymo said...

He's still a cute bird. Scruffy and all..Ha! I've never seen one.

Mary said...

What a cute bird! I really need to go birding with find all the birds that I've never seen before and don't even know where to look for!

Kathie Brown said...

The female and fall male look so much like sparrows! I saw my first bobolinks this year and I absolutley love them!

Elaine said...

What a scruffy looking fellow! Isn't that just like a man. He gets all spiffied up to get the girl, and then after he gets the girl he lets himself go.

Creative Cards said...

Even though this little fellow is scruffy...he is still beautiful in my eyes. Kinda reminds me of my husband when he first wakes up in the morning LOL and that is when I love him best :)

Lovely shots Kelly

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Bobolinks are pretty ---even when they are molting... I like the scruffy look!!!! ha.....

Females look so different---as do so many of the birds. Oh Well!!!!

Thanks for the great pictures and info on the bobolinks.

Love you,

Adrienne Zwart said...

Wonderful shots, Kelly!

Laure Ferlita said...

Love the white "bonnet" he has on! Do you have a photo of one if full "tuxedo"? I've not seen one.

p.s. the word verification was wingea - how did they know?! ;•)

Janice K said...

Very pretty pictures! I just looked him up in my bird book to see what he should look like. He really does change a lot for the winter.

NatureStop said...

I really like the scruffy look.Nice images!

Kelly said...

Shelley....I like the scruffy look too!

Roy...he definitely doesn't look to be the same dapper fellow from May!! :-)

Ginny...he might be even cuter as a scruff!

Mary...these guys are easy to find at VOA. You just need to find the right habitat. If you ever make it to Cincy (or Mason), look me up!!

Kathie...they do. When I first saw the female, I wondered if she was going to be the Henslow's Sparrow until I saw her in the binocs and realized she was way too big (plus her call was all wrong).'re terrible. You made me laugh...'re so sweet. Rick is quite a scruff in the morning too, and I love his scruffy hair. are always so happy and nice. Thank you for your comments! Hugs!!

Adrienne...thank you!

Laure...I do....I just posted a link at the bottom of the post to a post in May of a male Bobolink in fresh breeding plumage (often called a reverse tuxedo)

Janice....he makes a total transformation. He must expend a lot of energy to grow those new feathers...twice a year!

Nature...thank you! I do too....I always prefer the scruffy look! :-)

Tabib said...

Beautiful bird!
Love that multicolours plumage.

Chris Petrak said...

He looks worn out, but that's what raising kids will do to you!

Kelly said...

Tabib...I do too. He sings just as beautifully also...

Chris...hahaha! You said it! :-)

Unknown said...

He's cute, I like him scruffy. :-) Great photos and I learned something about Boblinks.

Montanagirl said...

Wonderful photos.

Dawn Fine said...

Great shots Kelly! Love that scruffy look...
I repeat..You have been taking some awesome photos!
gonna tweet these out on Twitter!
so nice!

Kelly said...

Dk....I like him scruffy too. I keep going back to the fact he will have two complete molts in a year. That has to take a lot of energy to produce new feathers. That he will have such a dramatic transformation is cool too.

Mona...thank you ma'am!! are so nice!!!! I'm going to try to get back and catch the molt in progress. Such a transformation is too cool.

Andor Marton said...

I've never seen or heard about molting bobolinks. For me it's a very useful post, thank you for sharing it and for the pictures too.
That molting bobolink looks really cute.

E said...

Very lovely, great bobolink shot, love your pics, Kelita, thanks for sharing them.

Kelly said...

Thanks, Andor. I learned a lot researching the molt as well. I love it when I stumble across something new.

Enita....thank you!!! :-)

BirdingMaine said...

Great photos of the Bobolink! I have been trying for ever to get a photo of these birds.