The bobolink is, for me and many others (albeit a minority of the population overall), one of those creatures who greatly enriches life and living. It is a small songbird who nests in fields, meadows, prairies, and grasslands across temperate North America, from Montana to the Atlantic coast, avoiding more arid regions in favor of wetter meadows, even beaver meadows in boreal forest.
The male in breeding plumage is velvety-black, but with a buff-yellow patch on the back of the neck, broad white bands on either side of the back, and an all-white lower back. They are, when seen perched beneath a brightly sunny sky or flying low across a meadow, surprisingly pretty birds. Bobolinks have an enthusiastic song of cheerfully bubbling notes, sung either from an exposed perch, such as a small shrub, fence, or telephone wire, or while the bird is in flight: wings fluttering, combining song with a visual display, the buff patch on the back of the neck fluffed up and conspicuous.
Bobolinks were abundant in my childhood, but here in Ontario, they have declined by more than three quarters since 1970. They are not yet considered endangered, and have been officially listed as threatened. And, they are not alone among field nesting birds in their precipitous decline. It would have been unthinkable in my youth to drive all day in farm country and not see eastern meadowlarks, Savannah sparrows, vesper sparrows, and kestrels. But now, they are gone - not completely, not endangered - but, most of the time, they are altogether absent from where I once saw so many.