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The Dickcissel - Information and Pictures

Photos and article by Charly Mann

Dickcissel Close Up
A beautiful Dickcissel outside of Bartlesville, Oklahoma 

The Dickcissel is a small bird that gets little respect. First because they look like miniature versions of Meadowlarks, and inhabit the same prairie and pastureland where they also live. Second, because they gather in large flocks in their winter home in Venezuela and are routinely poisoned there in large numbers to prevent them from eating crops. In the United States where they lay their eggs in fields, farmers often mow their fields in August which destroys the nests before the chicks have hatched. As a result, the Dickcissel population has declined by at least a third in the last two decades. There are several locations in Oklahoma where I routinely find populations of these birds, and since last year (2009) I have noticed their numbers are less than half of what they were.

Female Dickcissel close up
A female Dickcissel with nesting material outside of Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Dickcissels are about the size of a sparrow and weigh no more than an ounce. Males and females look almost identical, except females do not have a black bib under their chins. These are very colorful birds. They have grey on their cheeks, belly, the back of their necks, and on the crown of their head. They have a yellow chest, forehead, and chin. The back of a Dickcissel is streaked brown and black like a sparrow.

Male Dickcissel
A male Dickcissel

I must confess that in most of the areas I go to look for birds I often overlook the beauty and grace of the Dickcissel, as my eyes are much more focused on finding other birds. Over the years I have taken them for granted as they sing perched on fence posts or the tops of tall shrubs in nearby pastures. These birds are given more respect in Texas where they are often referred to as Townsend Buntings.

Diclcissel back view
A Dickcissel in a tree near Ramona, Oklahoma

The male Dickcissel is seen more often by humans than the female. They spend almost of their time singing away on tree tops and fences to attract a female, taking occasional breaks to catch an insect. Females on the other hand spend their time in the tall grass as the sole nest builder, incubator, and feeder of the young. The Dickcissel nest is either on the ground, or on some short shrub close to it.

 
 

Comments:

agpcfw      3:47 PM Wed 1/25/2017

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hugo      7:00 PM Tue 1/17/2017

I was lucky to spot a dickcissel in the back of the Los Angeles public library on august 15 2015, they landscaped the area and they cut down the tree they where perching at, along with the house sparrows. they are now located on hope street side on one of the evergreen trees. iv also seen one yesterday at perching sqaure in downtown LA ca. This one had a yellow crown on the top of head. Thanks contact me if any questions. note it looked like a lawrences gold finch.
 

Bewagi      3:04 AM Wed 10/14/2015

I would love to see a dickcissel alive that is. The only ones I've seen were very dead, wahesd up on the Texas coast, probably overcome by a storm on their long spring journey crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Though relatively abundant in the core of their breeding range on the American prairie, dicksissels have a rough time in their main wintering area. They concentrate in a small area of Venezuela which happens to be a chief rice-growing area. Considered an agricultural pest, farmers do their best to get rid of them. http://iubahyjnqw.com [url=http://xybveqf.com]xybveqf[/url] [link=http://cbztwddneul.com]cbztwddneul[/link]
 


Uplifting Visions
a guide to happiness, good health, and success
Charly Mann in a Hawaiian shirt
by Charly Mann

From the age of seven I have been enchanted with the idea of living happily ever after, and have made it a life quest to find that answer. I have spoken to hundreds of people – usually older and wiser than me, and read countless books and articles on the subject. In my website Uplifting Visions I share what I consider the best insights I have learned about achieving happiness in life.



Oklahoma Birds Listed by Color

Red
House Finch - male (carpodacus mexicanus)
Purple Finch - male (carpodacus purpureus)
Northern Cardinal - male (cardinalis cardinalis)
Painted Bunting - male (passerina ciris)
Summer Tanager - male (piranga rubra)

Orange
Baltimore Oriole - male (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - male (icterus spurius)

Yellow
Yellow Warbler (dendroica petechia )
Baltimore Oriole - female (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - female (icterus spurius)
Summer Tanager - female (piranga rubra)
Yellow Goldfinch - male (carduelis tristis)
Western Kingbird (tyrannus verticalis)
Eastern Meadowlark (sturnella magna)

Green
Malard - male (anas platyrhynchos)
Dark-eyed Junco - female (junco hyemalis)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (archilochus colubris)
Painted Bunting - female (passerina ciris)
Green Heron (butorides virescens)

Blue
Barn Swallow (hirundo rustica)
Belted Kingfisher (ceryle alcyon)
Blue Jay (cyanocitta cristata)
Blue Grosbeak - male (guiraca caerulea)
Eastern Bluebird (sailia sialis)
Indigo Bunting - male (passerina cyanea)
Purple Martin - male (progne subis)

Grey
Great Blue Heron (ardea herodias)
Carolina Chickadee (poecile carolinensis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (sitta canadensis)
Grey Catbird (dumetella carolinensis)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (regulus calendula)
Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher (tyrannus forficatus)
White-breasted Nuthatch (sitta carolinensis)
Tufted Titmouse (baelophus bicolor)
American Robin (turdus migratorius)
Northern Mockingbird (mimus polyglottos)
Mississippi Kite (ictinia mississippiensis)
Dickcissel (spiza americana)

Black
American Crow (corvus brachyrhynchos)
Brown-headed Cowbird - male (molothrus ater)
European Starling (sturnus vulgaris)
Common Grackle (quiscalus quiscula)
Red-winged Blackbird - male (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Towhee (pipilo maculatus)
Turkey Vulture (cathartes aura)

Black & White
American Bald Eagle (haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Black-billed Magpie (pica hudsonia)
Downey Woodpecker (picoides pubescens)
Red-Bellied Woodpecker (melanerpes carolinus)
Purple Martin - female (progne subis)
Eastern Kingbird (tyrannus tyrannus)
Dark-eyed Junco - male (junco hyemalis)
Loggerhead Shrike (lanius ludovicianus)

Brown
American Kestrel (falco sparverius)
Blue Grosbeak - female (guiraca caerulea)
Brown-headed Cowbird - female (molothrus ater)
Brown Thrasher (toxostoma rufum)
Common Nighthawk (chordeiles minor)
Carolina Wren (thryothorus ludovicianus)
Cedar Waxwing (bombycilla cedrorum)
Greater Roadrunner (geococcyx californianus)
Killdeer (charadrius vociferus)
Northern Bobwhite (colinus virginianus)
Red-tailed Hawk (buteo jamaicensis)
Cliff Swallow (petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
Horned Lark (eremophila alpestris)
House Finch - female (carpodacus mexicanus)
Northern Flicker (colaptes auratus)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (coccyzus americanus)
Mourning Dove (zenaida macroura)
Malard - female (anas platyrhynchos)
Purple Finch - female (carpodacus purpureus)
House Sparrow (passer domesticus)
Indigo Bunting - female (passerina cyanea)
Red-winged Blackbird - female (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Sandpiper (actitis macularia)
Upland Sandpiper (bartramia longicauda)
Northern Cardinal - female (cardinalis cardinalis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Yellow Goldfinch - female (carduelis tristis)
Canada Goose (branta canadensis)

Various
Wild Birds of Northeast OK

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