Monday, October 24, 2005

Dickcissels at Pheasant Branch - Year 2!

(male Dickcissel singing at Pheasant Branch Conservancy)

During a recent Madison Audubon field trip I was pleased to learn from Bill Brooks that DICKCISSELS successfully nested once again at Pheasant Branch Conservancy this past summer. This makes it two years in a row on the prairie restoration grounds.

Due to road construction coming from Waunakee, I stopped checking the prairie late June and at that time hadn't yet observed any Dickcissels there. I explained this apparent absence to their erratic year-to-year changes in distribution and abundance.

For early fall migrants I put more of an effort birding the city stream corridor, but once Pheasant Branch Road opened back up, I did manage to find a single juvenile Dickcissel at the prairie in early September. Anyway, Bill told me that the Dickcissels were later than normal, which makes me wonder if they were extirpated from a nearby area...or just ordinarily late!

The "Discovery Springs" fields in Middleton are rapidly being converted to parking lots and buildings. The 50+ Dickcissels I've observed there over the past several years will have to find new breeding grounds next spring. Given this fact, I'm going to make a prediction that there will be an increase in the population of Dickcissels at the PBC prairie in 2006 (in 2004 there were around 6 individuals).

(female Dickcissel)

Link: All about the Dickcissel from Cornell Labs

Dickcissel images © 2005 Michael McDowell

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