Dickcissel Fact Sheet

Common Name:


Scientific Name:

Spiza americana

Wild Status:

Least Concern




North America


Fields and Meadows

Life Span:

4 to 5 years wild


6-7 inches

Cool Facts:

  • Males pretty much only eat, and seek out a mate. Females do all the preparation of the nest, and the feeding/caring of the young.
  • Only living member of the "Spiza" Genus.
  • When flocks join together for migration, they can grow to thousands or even millions of these birds together.
  • Some of their favorite insects to eat include grasshoppers, termites, flies, and caterpillars.
  • The incubation period takes around 12-13 days, and each clutch has about 3-6 eggs.
  • The Dickcissel is preyed upon by many raptors, including various species of owls and hawks.


The Dickcissel is the only living member of the "Spiza" genus, inside the family of cardinals. These sparrow like birds were named for the male's song. The calls in flight are described as a low electric buzz sound. Most Dickcissels are 6-7 inches length wise. They possess a short tail and heavy, cone shaped bill. Males and females show some characteristics of sexual dimorphism. Males posses a grey back, head, and belly with brown shoulders. Along with a bright yellow breast and yellow "eyebrows". The female is brown on her undersides and does not posses a black bib or yellow breast. Their diet consists of insects in the summer and seeds and grains in the winter, effectively making them omnivores. The Dickcissel is located primarily in the midwestern United States, however these birds will migrate to Mexico, or even as far as South America.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves Order: Passeriformes Family: Cardinalidae Genus: Spiza Species: S. americana

Conservation & Helping:

The Dickcissel is currently Least Concern on the endangered species list. Populations had declined in the 1960's and 70's, however nowadays they have stabilized.

For Teachers and Educators


Keep Exploring Defenders!