Bobolink

Family: 
Icteridae (blackbirds) in the order Passeriformes
Description: 

The bobolink is the only North American bird that has light feathers above and dark feathers below, coloration that helps bobolinks hide from predators in the blowing grasslands. Male upperparts are black, with a pale, yellowish tan nape and white along the sides of the upper back, lower back and rump. Underparts are all black. Female's upperparts are buffy with dark streaks; the crown is dark with a central light streak, the eyebrow is light-colored and there is a dark eye line behind the bill; underparts are pale buff, with streaks on the flanks. In fall and winter, the male resembles the female but is darker above. Song is a bubbly series of musical gurgles and whistles, often sounding like "bob-o-link," and is frequently given during stiff-winged courtship flights. Call is a sharp "pink."

Size: 
Length: 7 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail).
Habitat and conservation: 
The bobolink's summer range is grasslands of northern U.S. and southern Canada. Wintering grounds are rice fields, marshes and pasture in southern Brazil and the grasslands or "pampas" of Argentina. Each spring and fall, bobolinks travel more than 5,000 miles between winter and summer ranges.
Foods: 
Forages in grasslands, agricultural fields and pastures for insects and seeds.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide transient.
Status: 
Uncommon migrant.
Life cycle: 
Male bobolinks court a female by strutting, with their pointed tail feathers dragging the ground.
Human connections: 
Formerly, bobolinks were much more abundant and were killed by rice farmers who were losing crops to large flocks. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many bobolinks were killed and shipped to urban areas as meat. It is unlikely bobolinks will ever regain their former populations.
Ecosystem connections: 
These migratory birds nest in the northern US and Canada, and overwinter in southern Brazil and northern Argentina: They play a role in all the ecosystems they pass through as they travel, providing food for predators and scavengers and snatching up insects and seeds as they go.