Dickcissel

© David J. L'Hoste
Spiza americana
The Dickcissel is a common, locally abundant, summer resident in most of Louisiana, which usually arrives in the middle of April from its winter home in South America. It is a conspicuous bird, for it seems to like nothing better than to perch on telephone wires or on roadside fences when it pours forth its emphatic song, a loud dick, ciss ciss ciss. In size it is about the equivalent of the House Sparrow. The male has a white chin, black throat, and yellow belly; the cheeks and top of the head are ash gray; the line over the eye is yellow; and the back is brown, heavily streaked with black. The female is browner on the head, lacks the black throat, and is much whiter (less yellowish) below. She resembles a female House Sparrow somewhat, but differs in having a least a faint wash of yellow on the breast, rufous patches on the shoulders, and a prominent line over the eye.
Despite the abundance of Dickcissels in June and early July, the bulk of them suddenly disappear in late July, and the species is uncommon from August to mid-November. Thereafter the species is quite rare, although not infrequently a few spend the winter in the state, even as far north as Springhill, in Webster Parish, and at Shreveport. In the winter season the Dickcissels that are present are often found in company with flocks of House Sparrows at feeding stations in urban areas.
The rather bulky nest of coarse grasses and leaves, lined with finer materials, in placed on the ground or in bushes, usually at the edge of fields, where doubtless many are destroyed each summer by mowing operations. The four or five eggs are plain bluish.
--George H. Lowery, Jr., 1974, Louisiana Birds

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