Dickcissel Life History


Habitat GrasslandsTall grasslands, including prairie, hayfields, lightly grazed pastures, and roadsides.Back to top


Food SeedsSeeds and insects.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Shrub

Nest Description

A bulky cup of weed and grass stems, lined with finer grasses, rootlets, and hair. Placed slightly above ground in dense grasses or in tree saplings.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:3-6 eggs
Egg Description:Unmarked, pale blue.
Condition at Hatching:Helpless with sparse white down.
Back to top


Behavior Ground ForagerPerches on stalks to pluck seeds, picks fallen seeds from ground.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernDickcissel populations declined drastically from 1966 to 1978, but then stabilized at a lower level. The North American Breeding Bird Survey estimates a 26% decline between 1966 and 2014. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 20 million, with 100% spending part of the year in the U.S. (primarily breeding and migrating though), and 14% in Mexico. A small number may breed in Canada. The species rates a 10 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Dickcissel is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species, and is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. These birds are considered an agricultural pest on their wintering grounds.Back to top


Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center 2014b. Available from http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/bbs/.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

Temple, Stanley A. 2002. Dickcissel (Spiza americana), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Back to top