Out at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, one of my favorite central Ohio places, there are a variety of different ecosystems. There are a few areas where fields turn into native tallgrass prairie that has been restored by park personnel over the last few decades. The prairie is starting its summer blooming season now.
Out among this grassy prairie area are birds such as Song and Field Sparrows, American Goldfinches, and the occasional Eastern Bluebird, Common Yellowthroat and Indigo Bunting. There are also less well-known birds, such as the following.
What are these two birds?
This male sings a curious song, sounding like ‘d-d-dik, sis-sis-sis’.
This bird is a Dickcissel, and many people haven’t noticed this modest singer in its summer grassland home. They are sort of an under-the-radar bird, easily missed. Dickcissels resemble a cross between a Sparrow and a Meadowlark, though their robust beaks explain why they are classified as a member of the Cardinal family, which include Cardinals, Grosbeaks and Buntings. These birds winter in Central and South America and breed in the American Midwest. eBird has a cool map showing when and where Dickcissels show up in North America. They eat both seeds and insects, which means that they have a versatile and adaptable diet.
From what I’ve seen of these birds, they are less combative than Bobolinks. Maybe I just haven’t been around at the right times! Or then again, maybe they are less on edge…that’s the impression I have.
Dickcissels are one of those curious birds that are sorta-kinda named after their song. Another example that readily comes to mind is the Chickadee, which is just fun to say.
These birds mostly sing from tall plants, though they will occasionally be seen in a tree near the fields where they live. Like Bobolinks, you see the males more often than the females, who are nesting on the ground in the field somewhere, hidden from view.
Though they aren’t often seen, they are a real treat when you do see them. Now that is a handsome bird!