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Dickcissel - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Brian Hubbs
Nebraska, June 2017
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Texas, May 2023

Dickcissel male landing, Barnes Road, east of Salado, Bell County.jpg

Spiza americana


6" (15 cm)

  • Yellow breast
  • Black 'V' on throat
  • Heavy bill
  • Chestnut wing patch


  • Yellowish throat and breast
  • Narrow streaks on sides

Similar Species

Adult female
Photo © by Stanley Jones
East of Golinda, Falls County, Texas, USA, May 2019

Male resembles meadowlark. Female much like female House Sparrow.


Breeds from eastern Montana and Great Lakes region south to Texas and Gulf Coast, locally farther east. Migrates through Central America where some winter, but it winters mainly in northern South America.
Since the 1920s, Dickcissel has begun to reoccupy, at least in small numbers, its former breeding range in the Atlantic Coast states. Overall, though, this species has recently exhibited population declines.

Was once commonly seen on farmland in the eastern states, especially on the Atlantic coastal plain, but disappeard by the middle of the last century and is now most numerous in the Midwest. It appears in small numbers on the East Coast during the fall migration and rarely but regularly in winter at feeders, often with House Sparrows.


Female, 1st Spring
Photo © by bobsofpa
Okeeheelee Park, Lake Worth, Florida, April 2011

This is a monotypic species[1], usually placed in the family Cardinalidae; some authorities have (in the past) placed it in the Icteridae (Blackbirds and Orioles).


Open country in grain or hay fields and in weed patches.


Perches on stalks to pluck seeds, picks fallen seeds from ground.


They are omnivorous during the breeding season, eating insects such as grasshoppers and also vegetable matter.


Their clutch contains 4 or 5 pale blue eggs which are laid in a cup of plant stems and grass set on or near the ground, often in alfalfa and clover fields.


Song sounds like dick-dick-cissel, the first two notes being sharp sounds followed by a buzzy, almost hissed cissel; repeated over and over again from a conspicuous perch on a fence, bush, or weed.
Call: a distinctive buzzy note, often given in flight.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved May 2019)
  3. BF Member observations

Recommended Citation

External Links

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