My First Dickcissel

When I heard a distant bird song about 500 yards away, I knew immediately I never heard it before. The sound I was hearing I later learned was a distinct dick-dick-ceessa-ceessa. The bird kept repeating its song over and over on a moderately cool morning in the Rolling Plains of Foard County.

My eyes followed the sound and I finally spotted the singing bird sitting at the top of a tall mesquite tree. I zoomed my camera all the way out and was hopeful that I got a good enough photo to at least help ID it properly.

Much to my glee, the photo was crisper than I anticipated.

Meet my first Dickcissel.

Dickcissel Close 3RF Ranch May 2020 Logo

At first, I thought I was looking at a small meadowlark due to the black and yellow on its chest. He almost looks like a tiny version of a meadowlark with the black markings on its chest. Zooming in on the photo I recognized the yellow band above its eye. That’s when I discovered that it was a dickcissel.

Score! My first one.

They are omnivores during the breeding season and eat a variety of spiders, grasshoppers, and seeds, but during winter and on migration, they switch to a grain-eating diet. Something that is really cool about them – they seem to be erratic wanderers which are a bird after my own heart.

With every observation I’ve made since 2015 at Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus and 3 Rivers Foundation Ranch, this was a significant one. It made me realize it is important when biologically monitoring any land to visit the land consistently whether its monthly, weekly, or daily to accurately biologically record the diversity of species utilizing a segment of land either year-round or during migration.

New discoveries can happen on any given day and I’m so thankful I was at the right place at the right time to score my first dickcissel.