Dickcissel Video Portrait

During my spring 2010 visit to Missouri, Carl Gerhardt took me to the Bradford Farm Extension and Research Center, just east of Columbia. Dickcissels were abundant and I must admit that it was not very difficult to get representative footage of this handsome grassland and farmland species. I absolutely love the first clip, where the smooth light-brown background nicely complements the male’s reddish-brown wing feathers.

placeholder image for the Dickcissel video clip by Lang Elliott

The staccato song of the Dickcissel usually sounds like dick-dick-ciss-ciss-ciss, and this typical or “classic” song pattern is represented by the first recording below. However, there are numerous variations, some sounding noticeably different from the classic pattern (e.g. the song of the bird in the video and the last two recordings below):

Dickcissel songs, classic pattern. 25 May 1994, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge near Stafford, Kansas. Recorded by Lang Elliott.

Dickcissel songs with coyote howls. 8pm, 12 May 2005, Prairie State Park near Mindenmines, Missouri. Recorded by Lang Elliott.

Dickcissel songs ending with trills. 18 June 1993, Taberville Prairie Conservation Area near Rockville, Missouri. Recorded by Lang Elliott.

Dickcissel’s range over much of the central United States. While they are uncommon or rare in many areas, they are locally abundant in others.

Range map for the Dickcisselclick for large map with color codes


  1. I agree, that the first clip in the recording is brilliant, with the brown in the background with the Dickcissel’s reddish wings. I like the recordings presented too, especially the one with the coyotes in the background. Why am I the only one that has commented here?

    What habitat are Dickcissels found in Lang? This year in Michigan they were found in moderated numbers, but I never saw or even heard a single one. Am I looking in the wrong spots?

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