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Robert Of Lincoln
All About The Bobolink Or Ricebird
The Bobolink A Summer Song
He sat upon the tallest bending grass stalk. He paid not the slightest
attention to Phyllis. He just swung lightly with the June breezes, and
sang his little heart out.
Such a careless, joyous, jingling song Phyllis had never before heard.
It seemed just a bubbling-over of happiness and gladness.
And such a common-looking little fellow to have such a wonderful voice!
He was but a little larger than a sparrow.
His plumage was mostly black. His wings and tail were edged with pale
yellow, and there were splashes of white in places on his body. There
was a light yellow spot on the back of his neck.
"You seem filled with gladness," said Phyllis.
The little bird stared at her for a moment. Then he nodded his head,
and quivered his small wings. He opened his mouth again and warbled
out the jolliest, sweetest tune that bird throat ever sang.
"How very beautiful!" cried Phyllis. "What a world of happiness you
send out in that song!"
"Ah, but I should be happy," warbled the sweet-voiced bobolink. "I
have all that bird heart can wish!"
"Tell me--" said Phyllis.
"I at last have won my wife," sang the bobolink. "At this very moment,
in this very field, she is sitting on a nestful of light blue eggs."
"Listen, Phyllis, and I will tell you all about it.
"It was about the middle of May when my brothers and I started north.
All winter long we had wandered through the rice-fields of the South.
"We were not happy there. We feared for our lives. There we are not
called bobolinks and the people of the South never listen for our songs.
"In fact we seldom sing when we are in the South. The hunters call us
'rice-birds' or 'reed-birds.' With their terrible guns they hunt us
early and late.
"It was no wonder, then, that we were so glad to return to the North.
It was a long journey, but we did not tire. In fact we travelled
mostly at night. During the day we feasted in the fields or at grain
"For a few days we flew about here, and sang out our names to every
"Just ten days after our arrival something very wonderful happened.
Our sisters and wives and sweethearts came with fluttering wings and
sweet, quiet ways.
"On that very day I met the lovely bird who now broods so gently over
"She seemed to me the most beautiful bobolink that ever was. Early and
late I sang to her. My most beautiful songs seemed not half good
enough for so lovely a bird.
"I, alas, was not the only bobolink who admired her. My own brother
was quite as delighted with her. He, too, sang to her.
"Sometimes we sat in the same tree, each of us singing our hearts out
to the shy little creature whom we both loved.
"I am sorry to say we did more than sing for the demure little bird.
We fought for her. We quarrelled fiercely. But at last it was I who
won her, and my brother found for himself another wife."
"I wish I could find your nest," said Phyllis.
"It is in this field," said the bobolink. "It is near the brook, and
every morning we both fly down there for a refreshing bath.
"I have told you all this, and yet, Phyllis, I venture to say that you
might hunt all day among the grasses and not find my nest. For the
leaves and the grasses bend over and about the nest where my little
"Should I call to her she would come to me. You perhaps would run to
the spot where she rose from the grass. But you would not find the
"My wife in her quiet brown dress is too wise for that. She never
flies up directly from the nest. She runs a distance among the grass
stems and then starts up from the grasses.
"There are five eggs in the nest, light blue with spots of blackish
"When they are hatched, you will hear very little music from me. I
shall put on a quiet dress, much like the one which my mate now wears,
and will work early and late bringing food to my babies.
"They shall have the very choicest grains and bugs and grasshoppers.
There will soon be no time for singing."
"But when the little ones are grown--" said Phyllis.
"Oh, yes, then I will sing again for you. But listen, Phyllis!"
Phyllis heard a sweet little "Chink! Chink! Chink!"
"My little mate is calling," gurgled the bobolink, flying away and
leaving the grass-top swaying wildly.
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