Animals

13 Dickcissel Bird Facts You’ll Never Forget

Explore the Dickcissel bird facts, a North American species found Feeding on seeds over the grassland.
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You will be surprised to know the environmental effect on birds causes drastic changes in their presence. They are common in some years in places but not in others. Dickcissels are one such species. The Dickcissel (Spiza americana) is a small seed-eating bird in the Cardinalidae family. It is the sole member of the genus Spiza, as no subspecies is recognized. Spiza is supposed to be an Ancient Greek word for a form of finch that is now considered a chaffinch. Their color pattern and habitats make it stand apart from other Cardinalidae. The best place to find this species is in extensive grasslands, meadows, and cultivated lands. You can hardly miss the song of male Dickcissels buzzing dick-dick-ciss-cissa over and over again sitting on barbed wire fences, posts, and shrubby trees. During winter migration, flocks will number in the millions. Hence, farmers are considered pests as these flocks can consume large quantities of cultivated grains.

We encourage you to explore more. If you're looking for more interesting facts, check out our saker falcon facts and canyon wren facts.

Dickcissel Bird

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Insects and Seeds

What do they eat?

Omnivorous

Average litter size?

3-6 eggs

How much do they weigh?

0.9-1.4 oz (25.6-38.4 g)

How long are they?

5.5-6.3 in (14-16 cm)

How tall are they?

N/A

What do they look like?

Brown, Yellow

Skin Type

Feathers

What are their main threats?

Humans

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Tall grasslands, Hayfields, Prairies, Lightly grazed pastures and Roadsides.

Locations

Summer: The Midwestern United States Winter: Central America, Northern Venezuela, and Northern Colombia

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Aves

Scientific Name

Spiza americana

Family

Cardinalidae

Genus

Spiza

Dickcissel Bird Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a dickcissel bird?

Dickcissel (Spiza americana) is a tiny seed-eating bird habitat of North America.

What class of animal does a dickcissel bird belong to?

Dickcissels are a group of passerine birds constituting the class Aves of the Order Passeriformes, Family Cardinalidae. They also called as cardinal-grosbeaks and cardinal-buntings.

How many Dickcissel bird are there in the world?

According to the Federal Breeding Bird Survey in 2017, it is estimated to have a breeding population of 27 million Dickcissels. Data thus show that the population of this bird is stable in its habitat range.

Where does a Dickcissel bird live?

In summer, Dickcissels are usually live in tall grasslands, covering lightly grazed pastures, prairies, hayfields, agricultural fields, fencerows, and even on roadsides. In winter, they like habitats of similar open areas, usually found in large flocks foraging and resting on grasslands and croplands or in areas with brushy vegetation and nocturnal roosting at densely vegetated marshes.

What is a Dickcissel bird's habitat?

Usually, you can find these North American birds in the skies of Midwestern North America as their habitats is in this range. This species migrates long-distances in large flocks to Central America, Northern South America, and Southern Mexico during winter.

Who do Dickcissel bird live with?

If you come across these North American birds, you will never see them alone because they usually flock in larger numbers, almost in the thousands. These flocks arrive in millions of birds in their wintering grounds.

How long does a Dickcissel bird live?

Dickcissels have been found to have a four-year lifespan in their habitat.

How do they reproduce?

Dickcissels are among the few songbirds that are polygamous. These birds arrive in their breeding range late, almost in May or June. Females are attracted to male birds with more attractive territories with dense and deep vegetation. Females settle in this territory and build their nests in thick grasses and sedges near the ground, usually up to 3–4 ft high. After mating, the female species lays three to six eggs, the average is four. These eggs are light blue in color and have no markings. The eggs hatch in 13 days to 15 days, and the chicks are ready to fly after 9-10 days to see their world. During the breeding season, they may have up to two broods.

What is their conservation status?

Dickcissels are threatened by habitat change on their breeding grounds, especially the large-scale transformation of native grasslands to grow crops. Despite this species encountering various threats, overall numbers are high and stable in their habitat. Hence the conservation status of Dickcissels is Least Concern.

Dickcissel Bird Fun Facts

What do Dickcissel bird look like?

During migration, Dickcissels form large wintering flocks of over a million birds.

They have a conical bill, a yellow line over the eyes, brownish shoulders with black stripes on the back, dark wings, a rust patch on the shoulders, and light underparts. Adult males are distinguished by a black throat patch, yellow breasts, and grey cheeks and crown. You will find this head and breast pattern are particularly bright in the breeding male, resembling an eastern meadowlark. Females and juveniles have brown cheeks and crowns but no black bib or yellow breast and resemble house sparrows.

How cute are they?

Dickcissels are so cute that when you stand quietly and come across a large flock of these beautiful birds on your way, it will fill all your senses.

How do they communicate?

Dickcissels, like other perching birds, communicate by songs and calls. During flight, they utter a tiny, electric buzzing "fpppt" song in an open perch of a field, which has sharp "dik-dik" accompanied by a buzzed cissel, often as "skee-dlees chis chis chis" or "dick dick ciss ciss ciss" noise. You can discover even more songs and calls incorporated with this bird in the ID of Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

How big is a Dickcissel bird?

Dickcissels are small birds, around the size of a sparrow; their lengths range from 5.5 to 6.3 in (14-16 cm) with wingspan range from 9.8-10.2 in (24.8-26 cm).

How fast can a Dickcissel bird fly?

The precise speed of Dickcissels has yet to be determined. It can, however, be matched with the speed of similar species like sparrows of the same size.

How much does a Dickcissel bird weigh?

Dickcissels are very light in weight, between 0.9-1.4 oz (25.6-38.4 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

No particular name is used to distinguish between male and female birds. However, if we spot these birds, we can easily distinguish male Dickcissels by their black throat patch, a bright yellow breast, and chestnut-colored shoulder patches. But, there is a chance to get confused with the Eastern Meadowlark as they both have a similar appearance. At the same time, female and juvenile Dickcissels are identical in size and color to the female House Sparrow.

What would you call a baby Dickcissel bird ?

Baby Dickcissels are also known as chicks after the incubation period (13 days), much like every other baby bird.

What do they eat?

Dickcissels are an omnivorous species that feed on insects and seeds found while foraging on the ground and in low vegetation during the breeding season in April. They usually consume insects like spiders, caterpillars, grasshoppers, bees, beetles, wasps, and termites. However, during migration and  winter, they primarily consume seeds such as grasses, buckwheat, and willows and forage crops such as rice and sorghum. You will be surprised to know that they can hull and consume up to a dozen sorghum seeds per minute; here, males are a little faster in shelling seeds than females.

Are they dangerous?

Despite the fact that Dickcissels do not pose any direct danger. If they are part of your pet world, you must maintain complete sanitation around and inside their cage because these birds can spread diseases that are harmful to humans, caused by a fungus that develops when heaps of their droppings accumulate.

Would they make a good pet?

If you want to keep this species as a pet, Dickcissels can be a great option. They make excellent companions because they only need a handful of grains and proper care.

Did you know...

Interestingly, the Dickcissel's population fluctuates all the time, even to the point that their range on the map also shifts dramatically. Did you know that Dickcissels expanded in eastern states in the early nineteenth century, creating a community in New England and the mid-Atlantic states, and shockingly  vanished by the end of the century? This presence and absence on the map are likely to be due to land-use changes.

Do Dickcissel bird migrate?

Dickcissels are migratory birds that migrate long distances during the summer and winter seasons. Dickcissels spend the winter in Central and South America, but they are best known for wintering migration in Venezuela, where you can see massive flocks begin to form from mid-August, all one of them arrive by September and October. For summer, they depart from their wintering grounds in late March and early April, arriving on breeding grounds from mid-April to early May. Males return a week in April before females so as to establish territories in grasslands for the upcoming breeding season.

Why is the Dickcissel endangered?

Dickcissels have unusual breeding behavior, visiting areas one year and disappearing the next. Hence, this complicates efforts to assess their status. However, they are becoming endangered in their native habitats due to different constructions, expanded agricultural practices, and other improvements in land use, affecting the Dickcissels population.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Canada warbler facts and long-tailed duck facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our dickcissel bird coloring pages.

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