DickcisselSpiza americana

adult male
Brian E. Small/VIREO
adult female
Brian E. Small/VIREO
immature female
Brian E. Small/VIREO



6" (15 cm). Male like miniature meadowlark (yellow breast with black V), but has heavy bill and chestnut wing patch. Female much like female House Sparrow, but with narrow streaks along sides, and yellowish throat and breast.


Song sounds like dick-dick-cissel, the first two notes being sharp sounds followed by a buzzy, almost hissed cissel; repeated over and over again from a conspicuous perch on a fence, bush, or weed. Call a distinctive buzzy note, often given in flight.


zeet flight calls
song #4
song #2
song #1
chick calls of pair (nest alarm)
song #3


Open country in grain or hay fields and in weed patches.


Breeds from eastern Montana and Great Lakes region south to Texas and Gulf Coast, locally farther east. Winters mainly in tropics.


Formerly common in farming regions of the eastern states, especially on the Atlantic coastal plain, the Dickcissel disappeared from that region by the middle of the last century and is now most numerous in the Midwest. It appears in small numbers on the East Coast during the fall migration and rarely but regularly in winter at feeders, often with House Sparrows.


4 or 5 pale blue eggs in a cup of plant stems and grass set on or near the ground, often in alfalfa and clover fields.

Similar Species

adult male

Hooded Warbler

5 1/2" (14 cm). Olive above, yellow below. Male has yellow face, black hood and black throat. Female lacks hood or has only a trace of it. Both sexes have white tail spots. See Bachman's Warbler.

adult male

Blue Grosbeak

6-7 1/2" (15-19 cm). Slightly larger than a House Sparrow. Male dark blue with 2 chestnut wing bars and a stout, dark bill. Female dark buff-brown with 2 buff wing bars.

adult male


6-8" (15-20 cm). Breeding male largely black, with white rump and back, dull yellow nape. Female and winter male rich buff-yellow, streaked on back and crown. Short, finch-like bill.

adult, breeding

Eastern Meadowlark

9-11" (23-28 cm). Robin-sized. A stocky, brown-streaked bird with white-edged tail; bright yellow throat and breast, black V crossing breast.

adult, breeding

Western Meadowlark

8 1/2-11" (22-28 cm). Robin-sized. Streaked brown above, bright yellow below, with a bold black V on breast.

adult male, breeding

House Sparrow

5-6 1/2" (13-17 cm). Male has black throat, white cheeks, and chestnut nape; gray crown and rump. Female and young are streaked dull brown above, dingy white below, with pale eyebrow.


Eurasian Tree Sparrow

6" (15 cm). Streaked brown above, dull white below. Crown chocolate brown, throat black, cheek white with prominent black spot. Sexes alike.


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