Digging the Dickcissels in our midst

For the past several weeks, Dickcissels have been frequenting the grassland fields of the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm, and it has been a thing of wonder.

Initially, I wondered if I’d ever see the bird. My Merlin sound app kept hearing the bird, but I could never spot it. I’d see reports of Dickcissel sightings most days from the Pole Farm.

This visitor from South America is a rarity. Last year, for a few .days in the spring one of them took up residence on the Reed Bryan Farm side of Mercer Meadows. I caught only a distant glimpse of it singing from atop a tree far out in the distance.

This year, the Dickie bird has been much more accommodating.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve encountered several birders who pulled into the Cold Soil Road parking lot with high hopes. Over and over, I’d report having heard the bird but having no luck at seeing it, let alone getting one on camera.

But my luck changed a week or so ago, and I spotted one in one of the big Pole Farm fields, just off the paved section of the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail. I managed a fair shot that confirmed species identity, and it would be a few days more before I was able to get a better look, resulting in the photo topping this post.

I just missed the bird yesterday morning, as two fellow birders noted, and I went back late in the afternoon to try my luck. I went up the trail and fairly quickly heard the bird singing from the branches of a small tree. The photos I shot then would turn out to be disappointing, but I had better fortune on my return trip when I met up with a couple of friends hoping to find the bird.

He obligingly sang from a tree branch in roughly the same spot I’d been at earlier. Having looked at my shots later at home, I believe I saw two Dickcissels, the one a textbook yellow-breasted male and the other a duller brown with some yellow streaking.

One of the Dickcissels I spotted at the Pole Farm this week, not nearly as colorful as the other(s).

Some of the birders I know speculate that we have a breeding pair, and one photographer got a shot of three of the birds close together a few weeks back.

However many are here, they are welcome to stay as long as they’d like, continuing to enhance the wonders of our little patch of birding paradise.

What a gorgeous bird!

Published by Dan

University media executive by day, blogger by night, I am a well-traveled resident of New Jersey

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