Thursday 16 June 2016

Dazzling Dickcissels

About a week and a half ago, a male Dickcissel was reported singing west of Strathroy. Dickcissels are birds mainly seen in eastern grasslands. This bird is a regular but somewhat rare species in Ontario. Here is it's range map (

As you can see, this bird's range barely extends into Canada. Dickcissels in Ontario is quite an awesome treat!

The birds were seen along Winter Drive, west of Napier Drive. As I drove up with the windows down, I could see why! The entire road was lined with tall grasses and other plants. This was the perfect habitat for Dickcissels and many other grassland birds such as Meadowlarks, Bobolinks, and Savannah Sparrows. Here's and example of what the fields looked like.

Savannah Sparrow in the middle

It was a little bit difficult to find the Dickcissel, but I eventually located it. I hopped out of the car, and made my way into the ditch across the road. Climbing into it would serve as some sort of blind, meaning that I wouldn't risk flushing (scaring away) the bird. I unknowingly decided to hunker down in a patch of Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), but hey, at least I got these photographs!

In the ditch, I saw these little butterflies named Common Ringlet. Another butterfly, which were most likely European Skippers, wouldn't sit still for photos.

Another grassland bird that was singing along the road were Grasshopper Sparrows. These birds were accompanied by Bobolinks and Savannah Sparrows. The Bobolink is listed as threatened in Ontario, so seeing and hearing as many as I did (6) was pretty special. The Bobolink Photo was taken in Bruce, Ontario.

Grasshopper Sparrow

Bobolink in Bruce (May 22nd, 2016)

There were at least 3 Dickcissels present. This bird was singing further up the road.

On my way out, the same bird as above decided to turn away from the camera. Although I would have preferred the front, these birds don't seem to have just one "good" side!

This White-tailed Deer gave me one more good photo before hitting the road again.

This is it for now, and as far as I know, the Dickcissels are still present in the area. But they probably won't be here for too much longer, so if you hurry, maybe you could see one of these beautiful birds!

Cattle along Winter Drive

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