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Summer Grassland Songsters, part 2- A Modest Meadow Resident.

July 7, 2012


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!

24 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2012 6:44 pm

    ❤ the birds!

  2. John Northcutt Young permalink
    July 7, 2012 9:36 pm

    Always enjoy reading your posts.

  3. July 7, 2012 9:50 pm

    Lovely shots!

  4. July 8, 2012 1:05 am

    They’re very handsome! I’ve heard of them but have never seen one.

  5. July 8, 2012 9:22 am

    Very pretty birds.

  6. July 8, 2012 4:37 pm

    Dickcissels are one of my favorite and easiest birds to photograph. Another great story.

  7. July 8, 2012 6:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing, I’ve never seen one, either.

  8. July 8, 2012 7:31 pm

    Tracy, a wonderful post on this lovely bird – I loved the photos and the story behind them. 🙂

  9. Jo Woolf permalink
    July 9, 2012 4:44 am

    Lovely photos, especially of the bird in song.

  10. July 9, 2012 10:50 am

    We don’t have dickcissels here, but they’re definitely a neat bird!

  11. July 9, 2012 11:05 pm


  12. July 10, 2012 8:14 am

    I don’t think that I’ve ever seen one of these either.

  13. sandy permalink
    July 10, 2012 4:24 pm

    Love your photos! That looks like a wonderful place to check out birds and flowers.

  14. July 11, 2012 7:31 am

    I’ve never heard of a Dickcissel. What a pretty bird it is. And I agree Chickadee is fun to say. lol Cool! 🙂

  15. July 11, 2012 12:43 pm

    Hi Seasons, I have never seen a Dickcissel in person. Beautiful birds! Nice shots. I also like the grasslands. Have a wonderful day today!

  16. July 12, 2012 8:19 am

    Hi. This bird is also new to me. I love trying to make up human words for bird calls. I am such an amateur, just learning. At our cabin the other day I listened to a bird all afternoon, singing ‘wee to-wheat wee-hee’! I wonder what he was? Jane

  17. July 12, 2012 11:27 am

    Never have seen a Dickcissel…that’s a new one on me…but since there are thousands of birds around us…nothing surprises me…I don’t even know if I have ever heard or read the name before…thanks for the new ground…learning something new everyday keeps us young…thank again W.S….

  18. July 13, 2012 10:09 pm

    Thanks for the comments everyone! 🙂

  19. July 17, 2012 12:43 am

    I love how the birds are so well balanced on what looks to be such a fragile reed/grass. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  20. July 20, 2012 8:31 am

    Wonderful shots and loved the song also. Had never heard of these birds before. I learn something every time I come to your blog. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  21. July 27, 2012 6:11 pm

    What a character!

  22. September 20, 2012 9:04 pm

    A lovely bird this is! Coming home one day, we pulled up along side one and it didn’t flee as many birds do when we drive up. We were so close, we could see his head bobbing as he sang. He puts his all into it.
    Really strange, we had them coming to our feeders this summer. They ate in the platform and on the ground. Oh and made use of the bath, too. We wondered if this had to do with the drought.
    I hope to have more time to peruse your blog soon. You have a lot of wonderful pictures.

    • September 21, 2012 9:10 am

      Wow, at your feeder and birdbath! That’s amazing- I too would guess that that is drought-related.

      Thanks for the kind words!

  23. September 21, 2012 9:08 am

    Thanks everyone!

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