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Happening NOW: Dickcissels on the Move

Dickcissel is a summertime staple of America’s Heartland. However, it has also garnered a reputation for being nomadic and unpredictable, and in some years will wander in large numbers well beyond the prairie. It appears that 2017 is shaping up to be a prime example of such a movement. Here at the NAB news desk we’ve spent much of June monitoring a surge of Dickcissel reports from regions outside its core summer range: the Mid-Atlantic, northern portions of the Upper Midwest, Ontario, and Manitoba, among others. This summer has brought about the first Dickcissel sightings to many locations since the last substantial “invasion,” back in 2012.

2017 has seen many reports of Dickcissel throughout the Upper Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and southern Canada. Map from eBird.

Naturally we’ll touch on this event, possible causes, and overall significance both in this space and in a future issue of NAB, but for now we want to encourage birders who might be in the path of Dickcissels to get out and have a look at open country habitats in their local patches. If you live in an area that typically hosts breeding Dickcissels, are you seeing them in expected numbers? If you live elsewhere, what habitats are they occupying? When did they start to arrive?

Birders should be on the lookout for the dapper, and often conspicuous, Dickcissel in areas outside of their core range this summer. Photo: Charles Shields/Macaulay Library

This is an event that could easily spill over into July, so even if you don’t find any right now, try again soon! Be sure to get your Dickcissel reports into eBird (especially if you are birding in a state currently conducting a breeding bird atlas), forward notes to your local report compiler, and let us know what you’re seeing in the comments below. We look forward to hearing from you, and look forward to seeing how this event will unfold during the next few weeks.

Note: This is the first in a series of blog posts from the editors of North American Birds. The idea of these occasional posts is to highlight ongoing bird population phenomena of broad interest to birders and field ornithologists across the continent. Full analysis will appear in print in North American Birds. To learn more or to subscribe, please go online: http://publications.aba.org/north-american-birds/
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