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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.