Sunday, 7 July 2013

A few DICKs (with photos)

By the way, DICK is the banding code for Dickcissel. No, YOU grow up!

Anyways, last Saturday I was successful in acquiring my first decent Dickcissel photos. The male was very cooperative, singing his heart out virtually non-stop with the female lurking in the shrubs nearby.

Dickcissels are in the Cardinalidae family, along with species such as tanagers, cardinals, some buntings, etc. They used to be considered more closely related to Emberizidae sparrows, and in appearance essentially look like a colorful House Sparrow.

Dickcissels are not a annual breeding species in Ontario, though often by mid summer several males show up in the banana belt of Ontario. They seem to be strongly affected by drought, and last year's prolonged drought in the midwest of the United States pushed many Dickcissels farther north. They could be found in a variety of locations; basically anywhere there was a large weedy field. I was doing some fieldwork in Rainy River last summer and stumbled across maybe 4 Dickcissels. They are actually a "review species" for northern Ontario (meaning they are rare enough that sightings are reviewed by the Ontario Bird Records Committee), yet over a dozen were reported in the Rainy Rive District. This year they are much less common, but nonetheless sightings have occurred in multiple places in Essex and Chatham-Kent, and as far away as Sault Ste. Marie and Luther Marsh.

So there you go, a few nice closeup photos of a DICK.

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