Worldbirds.com is user-supported. When users buy via links on our website, we may earn a commission. More info

Bobolink Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

Bobolink on Wooden Post

A muse for poets known for its distinctive song, the Bobolink is a distinctive and beloved member of the blackbird family. Migrants that come and go with the seasons, the Bobolink represents the springtime, travelers, and the cycles of life. In addition, because they are blackbirds themselves, Bobolinks hold many of the same meanings that blackbirds themselves do. Read on to learn more about the cheerful lyricist of the reeds: the Bobolink!

On this page
Bobolink Symbolism and Meaning
Bobolink Native American Symbolism
Bobolink Christianity Symbolism
Bobolink Celtic Symbolism
Bobolink in Dreams
Bobolink Encounters and Omens
Bobolink Mythology and Folklore
    Native American Mythology:
    Greek Mythology:
Bobolink Spirit Animal
Bobolink Totem Animal
Bobolink Power Animal
Bobolink Tattoo Meaning

Bobolink Symbolism and Meaning

The Bobolink is best known for its intricate bubbling song. The most famous celebration of the Bobolink is William Cullen Bryant’s Robert of Lincoln. This poem personifies the Bobolink with a carefree and boastful personality.

Merrily swinging on briar and weed,
Near to the nest of his little dame,
Over the mountain-side or mead,
Robert of Lincoln is telling his name:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Snug and safe is that nest of ours,
Hidden among the summer flowers;
Chee, chee, chee.

Robert of Lincoln is gaily drest,
Wearing a bright black wedding-coat;
White are his shoulders, and white his crest;
Hear him call in his merry note:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Look what a nice new coat is mine,
Sure there was never a bird so fine.
Chee, chee, chee.

Robert of Lincoln’s Quaker wife,
Pretty and quiet, with plain brown wings,
Passing at home a patient life,
Broods in the grass while her husband sings:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Brood, kind creature; you need not fear
Thieves and robbers while I am here.
Chee, chee, chee.

Modest and shy as a nun is she;
One weak chirp is her only note,
Braggart and prince of braggarts is he,
Pouring boasts from his little throat:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Never was I afraid of man;
Catch me cowardly knaves, if you can !
Chee, chee, chee.

Six white eggs on a bed of hay,
Flecked with purple, a pretty sight!
There as the mother sits all day,
Robert is singing with all his might:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Nice good wife, that never goes out,
Keeping house while I frolic about.
Chee, chee, chee.

Soon as the little ones chip the shell,
Six wide mouths are open for food;
Robert of Lincoln bestirs him well,
Gathering seeds for the hungry brood.
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
This new life is likely to be
Hard for a gay young fellow like me.
Chee, chee, chee.

Robert of Lincoln at length is made
Sober with work, and silent with care;
Off is his holiday garment laid,
Half forgotten that merry air:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Nobody knows but my mate and I
Where our nest and our nestlings lie.
Chee, chee, chee.

Summer wanes; the children are grown;
Fun and frolic no more he knows;
Robert of Lincoln’s a humdrum crone;
Off he flies, and we sing as he goes :
“Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
When you can pipe that merry old strain,
Robert of Lincoln, come back again.
Chee, chee, chee.

– William Cullen Bryant (1)

Emily Dickinson wrote about the Bobolink on more than one occasion. She famously referred to the Bobolink as the “Rowdy of the Meadow.” (2) In many of Dickinson’s works, the Bobolink is associated with religious imagery; it is a preacher whose energetic song is nature’s own sermon. In the following poem, Dickinson takes that imagery even further, suggesting that the appreciating nature, including the song of the Bobolink, is the path to achieving heaven on earth.

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
I keep it, staying at Home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
And an Orchard, for a Dome –

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I, just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton – sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –
I’m going, all along.

–Emily Dickinson (3)

The Bobolink is one of the most traveled migrants of the songbird family. With seasonal migrations between North and South America, the Bobolink traverses more than twelve thousand miles each year. These long journeys mean that, wherever they land, Bobolinks are deeply connected with the changing seasons. (4)

Furthermore, the Bobolinks long journey means that this bird signifies travelers and messengers. Bobolinks represent safety and good fortune for travelers.

Perched Bobolink
Image by Jason King from Pixabay

Male Bobolinks molt their plumage each year before sprouting their distinctive black and white breeding plumage with a buttery yellow nape. Outside of the breeding season, they are a nondescript brown color. Thus, the Bobolink can also represent metamorphosis, growth, and the cycle of changes that make up the pattern of one’s life. (5)

Latest Articles:
Buzzard Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)
San Diego Zoo Penguin Debuts Custom Orthopedic Boots
Frigatebird Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)
Magpie Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)
Macaw Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

Bobolink Native American Symbolism

Like other blackbird species, Native American symbolism would most likely connect the Bobolink with corn and the harvest. In many Native American cultures, the blackbird is thought of as a messenger of the corn goddess. In some traditions, blackbirds devouring the yearly corn harvest was interpreted as a sign that the people had failed to properly venerate the corn goddess and were being punished for their failure. (6)

Bobolink Christianity Symbolism

Bobolinks are New World blackbirds, meaning that they are only found in the Americas. As such they are not described in the Bible nor are they present in old religious imagery. As mentioned above, Emily Dickinson often connects the Bobolink with priestly sermons or the sanctity of nature itself. (7)

Bobolink Celtic Symbolism

Once again, Bobolinks are limited to the so-called “New World.” Celtic cultures would not have interacted with these birds until after the Age of Exploration. Blackbirds, however, are found in Europe and play a major role in many Celtic traditions. The goddess Rhiannon is known for commanding a chorus of birds whose singing is legendary in its beauty. According to many versions of this myth, the birds of Rhiannon are a trio of mystical blackbirds. (8)

Bobolink in Dreams

Dreaming about the Bobolink is a pretty strong sign that changes are on the horizon. Bobolinks travel across the Americas each year and even molt their plumage completely. The changes they undergo in both appearance and surroundings are often thought as emblems of the earth’s cycles and the changing of the seasons. Dreaming about a Bobolink represents a natural transition into a new chapter.

Changes can be frightening and trying to resist them is a natural human impulse. Dreaming of the Bobolink is a reminder to embrace, as much as possible, the natural cycles that occur throughout a person’s life. New situations and novel circumstances are the foundation for growth and progress.

Bobolink with Babies
Image by jupiterimages on Free Images

Bobolink Encounters and Omens

Encountering a Bobolink is a fantastic reminder to find one’s own voice and communicate with pride and confidence. Bobolinks are named for the iconic sounds that they make. Even when one doesn’t see a Bobolink, their songs can be identified by their tinkling metallic notes. Encountering a Bobolink is a great sign that one’s own song needs to be heard.

Expressing one’s self artistically and interpersonally can be a real challenge. A Bobolink encounter is a sign that one’s doubts are holding them back. Overcoming anxiety and self-doubt is such an important step towards honest and authentic expression.

Bobolink in Mythology & Folklore

Bobolinks are not specific subjects of many myths, however blackbirds are common in global mythic and storytelling traditions. To understand the Bobolink’s place in mythology, we’ll take a look at some blackbird myths which could apply to the Bobolink as well.

One of my favorite tidbits about blackbirds is the fact that the ubiquitous Twelve Days of Christmas song actually includes a day for blackbirds hidden in plain sight. The “four calling birds” of the fourth day is actually a misunderstanding. The original lyric is “four colly birds.” The word “colly” means “black” and so the “colly birds” are understood to be a quartet of blackbirds. (9)

Native American Mythology:

One Native American myth describes how blackbirds, and presumably Bobolinks, were originally created. In the story of “The Obstacle Flight,” Big Man-eater captures a human woman and steals her away from her protective older brothers. When Big Man-eater grows hungry, he demands that the woman cut off some of her own flesh for him to eat. Taking pity on the young human woman, Big Man-eater’s wife gives her flesh instead and decides to help the captive woman escape from her husband. The young woman flees from Big Man-eater, throwing obstacles in his path as she runs. Eventually, her brothers hear her calls for help and come to her aid. Together, the brothers discover Big Man-eater’s weakness and take him down. Once Big Man-eater is defeated, they burn his body down to ashes and the ashes are transformed into bees. The blackened bits of bone which are too large to burn away completely are transformed into blackbirds which fly away into the sky. (10)

Greek Mythology:

The Fowler and the Blackbird is one of Aesop’s Fables which features an Old World blackbird as its tar. This fable, which is intended to deliver a message about the immorality of deceiving the gullible, begins with a bird trapper, or “fowler,” setting nets for birds. A blackbird approaches the trapper and asks him what he has built. The fowler replies that he has built a fine city for the blackbird to occupy. The blackbird is delighted and walks right into the nets. Disappointed, the blackbird cries out to the fowler that if this dishonesty is the foundation of his city then it will have very few citizens. (11)

Bobolink Spirit Animal

If the Bobolink is your spirit animal then you are likely an outgoing, tenacious, and determined person who is unwilling to compromise when it comes to being your full authentic self. The Bobolink spirit animal may not be unwaveringly confident, however even in times of doubt this bird can’t help but be loud and proud.

The Bobolink spirit animal is prone to really intense emotional experiences. Constant growth, change, and journeys are par for the course for this spirit animal. Just as they say that you can never step into the same river twice, so too can you never meet the same Bobolink spirit twice. Despite all of this metamorphosis, though, the Bobolink spirit animal is capable of riding out the waves and staying focused on their goals. While an outsider might see this spirit animal as flaky or distractible, the Bobolink is actually surprisingly good at zeroing in on what is truly important.

Bobolink Totem Animal

The Bobolink totem animal is connected with cycles. Day becomes night which becomes day again, winter becomes spring, children grow into adults who raise children of their own, and the Bobolink comes and goes and comes again. If the Bobolink is your totem animal then expect to experience these cycles of growth and change very deeply. People with the Bobolink totem animal are keenly aware of the ways in which the cycles of nature affect them.

If the Bobolink is your totem animal, be aware of your tendency to fall into unproductive or destructive routines. The Bobolink totem is very susceptible to being drawn into these sorts of habitual behavior patterns which can disrupt or distract one from their personal goals.

Bobolink Power Animal

The power of the Bobolink is celebration. The Bobolink revels in the ordinary and understands the vital importance of finding joy in mundane things. No matter the size of the victory, all victories should be celebrated. If the Bobolink is your power animal then you know how to bring excitement and triumph into life’s little moments. This ability can allow you to brighten the lives of others and remind everyone of what a gift an ordinary day can be.

Bobolink 1
Image by Jason King from Pixabay

Bobolink Tattoo Meaning

A Bobolink tattoo can symbolize metamorphosis, transitions, or self expression. Choosing a Bobolink tattoo may also indicate a passion for poetry, since these little blackbirds have a way of inspiring poets.

Conclusion

Perhaps a bit less well known or celebrated as the lark or the nightingale, the Bobolink is nevertheless a muse which has captured the heart and imagination of numerous poets and artists. With the determination to migrate over impossible distances and the bubbly song which uplifts all who hear it, the Bobolink reminds us all to appreciate the world around us and the joy which permeates throughout the natural world!

More Spirit Animal Symbolism to Read About:
Rooster Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)
Bull Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)
Heron Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)
Bluebird Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)
Cardinal Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *