Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Dickcissel

One of the most photographed birds at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in the past few weeks is the Dickcissel.  As many as 115 were reported on the Tuesday Bird Census at the Refuge, on May 10, 2016.

Photo, Singing Dickcissel by Ken Morton

Here is a description of the bird, from Cornell:    
A sparrow-like bird of the prairie grasslands of the United States, the Dickcissel congregates in huge flocks in migration and on its tropical grassland wintering grounds. The breeding male is colored like a tiny meadowlark, with a black "V" on a yellow chest.

According to Audubon, the Dickcissel is a member of the Cardinal family.  

Dickcissels migrate in large flocks. At Hagerman and other places in the summer breeding range as shown in the map from Cornell,

“…the male Dickcissels sometimes seem to sing their name from every wire, fence post, or weed stalk in prairie or farming country.  Click this link to hear the song:  

The Dickcissel makes a nest in thick grasses or tree saplings, elevated somewhat about ground level.  The female lays 3 -6 pale blue eggs.

Dickcissels are frequently seen perched on a stick to pluck seed, but they also feed on seed on the ground and insects.
Photo by George Cooper

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