Dickcissel Increasing?

Recently I was helping on a bird survey with Karl and Mike when Karl brought up the thought that Dickcissel are increasing in the area. And I had to agree. No facts to back it up but it seems like there are more than a few years ago.

DICK (4)
The Dickcissel were out in force last Sunday morning when I was checking on Bobolinks. Urban Johnson County 6/26/16

The Facts

  1. I first checked Brock’s Birds of Indiana to see what he saw as a long-term trend in Indiana. As seen below a slight increase but not significant.Brock - Dickcissel
  2. Next I checked the results of the USGS Breeding Bird Survey. As seen on the left chart below for the entire US there was an initial decrease at the start of the survey but has basically leveled off. The right chart shows Indiana and to my eye shows a slight increase since 1980.
DickCissel BBS
Breeding Bird Survey – The graph on the left is the long-term US results and on the right Indiana. Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, D. J. Ziolkowski, Jr., and W. A. Link. 2014. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966 – 2013. Version 01.30.2015 USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD
DICK (3)
Urban Johnson County 6/26/16

My Personal Thought

My own personal thought is Dickcissel are increasing slightly in this area but only in selected spots.

Karl brought up the fact he sees Dickcissel in a scrubby area that didn’t use to hold birds. That is my same take. When we moved to Franklin from Illinois I started seeing them in numerous deserted scrubby lots. And that has been where I continue to see them.

These lots look like they had started development during the construction boom and when things crashed the lots become deserted scrub fields. With just the vegetation a Dickcissel likes. So over the last 7-8 years we have provided the perfect habitat for them.

DICK (1)
Urban Johnson County 6/26/16

On my BBS routes in the rural Indiana landscape, my numbers didn’t suggest an increase, similar to the BBS national trends. And I haven’t seen more or less at Atterbury either.

It will be interesting to see what happens as the lots disappear since they are starting to be developed.

DICK (2) Dickcissel Increasing
Urban Johnson County 6/26/16

Any thoughts?

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