photo by Phil Swanson

Spiza americana
L 6 1/4″ (16 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (UNL audios)

Distinctive buzzing “bzrrrrt.” Song is variable “dick dick dickcissel.”

Description: Yellowish eyebrow; thick, dark bill; and chestnut wing coverts. Breeding male has black bib under white chin; bright yellow breast; whitish belly; grayish-black crown and cheeks; and brown, sparrow-like upperparts. Female lacks black bib; yellow breast; grayish sides; paler chestnut wing patch. Immatures are paler overall with some streaking on breast and sides.

Bird Map
Habitat: Grasslands with a combination of tall grasses, forbs, and shrubs. Also found in various croplands, especially alfalfa and clover.

Where in Nebraska: Common to abundant spring and fall migrant and summer resident across the state, except in the Panhandle where it is uncommon to rare.

Field Notes: Often heavily parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Fun Facts: During migration, Dickcissels’ flocks get larger and larger until they reach their wintering grounds with over a million birds.

male Dickcissel - photo by Phil Swanson male Dickcissel - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)