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threatened and/or endangered

Dickcissel Spiza americana


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Dickcissel, breeding male
credit: ~ (The Rebel At) ~ /CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Cardinalidae, Cardinals view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has a dark-striped, gray-brown back, reddish brown wings, and gray tail and nape. Head is gray overall, but with striking yellow supercilium and eye surround, yellow malar stripe and black bib surrounding white throat patch. Underparts are flushed yellow on breast, grading to grayish white on belly; undertail coverts are white. Colors are subdued in nonbreeding plumage and black bib is obscured by pale feather fringes. ADULT FEMALE Recalls a dull, washed-out male with no black bib and more extensive white throat. JUVENILE Recalls plain adult female with hint of adults' face pattern.

Dimensions Length: 6" (15 cm)

Habitat Common summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to Midwest prairies and farmland; numbers and breeding locations affected by factors such as rainfall. Winters mainly in Venezuelan llanos, where subject to persecution in agricultural areas.

Observation Tips Easy to see in Midwest.

Range Rocky Mountains, Southwest, New England, Mid-Atlantic, California, Eastern Canada, Florida, Southeast, Texas, Western Canada, Plains, Great Lakes

Voice Song is a repeated, vaguely onomatopoeic dik-dik-dik, ciss-sess-sel; call is a buzzing fzzppt.

Discussion Sparrow-like grassland bird with a proportionately large bill. Forms huge flocks outside breeding season and prior to migration. Sexes are dissimilar.