South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Spiza americana

Length: 6.5 inches Wingspan: 10 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Male distinctive with black bib, yellow chest, white chin, and yellow eyebrow

Dickcissel - Spiza americanaDickcissels are a vocal summer resident in the state, especially in the eastern part, where they can often be found singing their djjk-djjk-djjk-cissel song  from fenceposts, wires, and plant tops.  They seem to vary locally quite a bit from year to year, presumably in response to vegetation condition and other habitat parameters. 

Habitat: Nests in alfalfa and clover fields, as well as native meadows and grasslands.  

Diet: Primarily insects in the summer.  Seeds and grains may make up the majority of the winter diet.

Behavior: Behavior Info Here

Nesting: June and July

Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map

Song: Dickcissel Song

Migration: Neotropical migrant, summering in the U.S. and wintering in Central and South America.

Similar Species: Male generally distinctive, female similar to female House Sparrow.

Bird Feeders: Will occasionally come to feeders for small seeds and grains.

Conservation Status: Once a fairly common breeder in the Atlantic states, but disappeared as a breeding species there by 1900.  While reestablishing itself in pockets in the east, overall they are probably in decline across the country.  Often nests in alfalfa fields, sometimes resulting in large numbers of young being lost when the fields are mowed.  Also is a common host to cowbird young.  

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Dickcissel

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Dickcissel"

3) Dickcissel

Photo Information: May 26th, 2003 -- Western Minnehaha County -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Dickcissel photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Dickcissel - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common summer resident in the eastern part of the state, uncommon and local in the western part.