Nature is the best judge of whether the restoration is progressing in the right direction; our project's report card is the types and diversity of species utilizing the site. We are happy to report that bobolinks have been occupying the Wetlands Initiative's Grant Creek Restoration Project site at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in large numbers, their song making the days of the restoration crew's fieldwork more enjoyable.
Bobolinks are ground-nesting grassland birds. In breeding plumage, the male is strikingly patterned black underneath with a white-and-yellow back, sometimes described as looking like he is wearing a tuxedo backwards. The female is more understated in browns and tans. Males often deliver their complex, bubbling song on the wing over the grassland.
Bobolinks used to be common birds of the Tallgrass Prairie but now, due to their lack of appropriate habitat, their numbers are decreasing at an alarming rate. Each bobolink needs from 1.5 to 4.5 acres of grasses and forbs, but not woody vegetation, to be able to breed. They also prefer patches with more than 200 acres of continuous high-quality habitat that can support them.
At the Grant Creek Restoration Project, the bobolinks chose the wet prairie (a type of wetland) and mesic (dry) prairie that surround the wetlands for their breeding ground. The mix of tall grasses and forbs allows them to make well-camouflaged nests on the ground, and provides them with the seeds and insects they feed on.
In this short video you can see the bobolinks at the Grant Creek Restoration Project and hear their song.