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IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A sparrow-like bird of the prairie grasslands of the United States, the Dickcissel congregates in huge flocks in migration and on its tropical grassland wintering grounds. The breeding male is colored like a tiny meadowlark, with a black "V" on a yellow chest.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
5.5–6.3 in
14–16 cm
9.8 in
25 cm
0.8–1 oz
23–29 g
Other Names
  • Dickcissel (French)
  • Arrocero americano (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • In preparation for fall migration, Dickcissels begin assembling in larger and larger flocks that gradually coalesce into flocks of thousands. Winter roosts can number into the millions of birds.
  • The Dickcissel makes irregular movements outside of its core breeding range to breed in surrounding areas where extensive grassland can be found. Such movements can make for dramatic changes in abundance from year to year. Abundance on much of the wintering ground also varies markedly from year to year.
  • Nearly all Dickcissels winter far south of their breeding range, but each year small numbers can be found scattered within the breeding range throughout the winter. Individual Dickcissels frequently turn up far from the normal range, often joining in with House Sparrow flocks.
  • The oldest recorded Dickcissel was at least 8 years old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Maryland.



Tall grasslands, including prairie, hayfields, lightly grazed pastures, and roadsides.



Seeds and insects.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–6 eggs
Egg Description
Unmarked, pale blue.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless with sparse white down.
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.

Nest Placement



Ground Forager

Perches on stalks to pluck seeds, picks fallen seeds from ground.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Dickcissel 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.


Range Map Help

Dickcissel Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

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