E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Spiza americana (Gmelin, 1789)
Family: Cardinalidae
Photo of species

© Greg Lavaty  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #9291)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Spiza americana in British Columbia
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Species Information

The Status and Occurrence of Dickcissel (Spiza americana) in British Columbia

Rick Toochin

Read the full article with photos on our Vagrant Birds page. Introduction and Distribution

The Dickcissel (Spiza americana) is a sparrow-like species found in the tall grass prairie of the Great Plains of the central United States (Beadle and Rising 2006). This species breeds from eastern North Dakota (except in northernmost areas), western and southern Minnesota, central and southern Wisconsin, and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan (locally on the western Upper Peninsula), south to the Gulf Coast of Texas and southern Louisiana, but excluding Mississippi Delta region, west to west-central South Dakota, west-central Nebraska, but excluding the panhandle region, eastern Colorado (locally in central Colorado), and central Texas (areas east of Rio Grande), and east to western Ohio, central Kentucky, central Tennessee, northwest Alabama, and northern half of Mississippi (Temple 2002).

The core wintering area of the Dickcissel is the llanos region of central Venezuela which is a seasonally flooded grassland region that is now been mostly converted to agriculture (Basili and Temple 1999). Smaller numbers occur regularly or irregularly for all or part of the winter in peripheral areas that include open agricultural areas of the rest of Venezuela, Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, northern Brazil in Roraima, north and coastal Colombia, casually south to eastern Ecuador, with some birds present on the Pacific and rarely Atlantic slopes of Panama, the Pacific and occasionally the Atlantic slopes of Costa Rica, the Pacific and rarely the Atlantic slopes of Nicaragua, the Pacific coast of Guatemala, central and southern Pacific slopes and occasionally southern Atlantic slopes of Mexico (Temple 2002). The Dickcissel has been recorded repeatedly throughout North America in the winter with most observations involving single birds or small flocks often found in flocks of House Sparrows at feeders or at locations where grain is available (Temple 2002).

The Dickcissel is a regular rarity in California and is not a review species for the state by the California Bird Records Committee (Hamilton et al. 2007). Along the west coast there are 15 accepted records for Oregon by the Oregon Bird Records Committee (OFO 2012). In Washington State, there are 6 accepted records by the Washington Bird Records Committee (Wahl et al. 2005, WBRC 2012). In British Columbia, the Dickcissel is a casual vagrant with over 20 Provincial records (Toochin et al. 2014a, Please see Table 1). There is one spring record for Juneau Alaska from May 22-23, 2004 (Gibson et al. 2008, West 2008). There is an exceptional record of an adult in Norway in July 29, 1981 (Lewington et al. 1992, Cramp and Perrins 1994).

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeSNAAccidentalNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

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General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2023-10-02 1:25:47 PM]
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