From Birding

Lifebirds #350 and #351 – Summer Sizzle

Species  Dickcissel / Spiza americana
Where 140th Street near Rosemount, MN
When July 2, 2011
Who Joann
Number 350

We made the 30-minute drive to Rosemount on a hot summer day, not to see a Dickcissel, but to find the Blue Grosbeak pair that had been reported on the M.O.U.’s rare bird list. But I had been reading about the prevalence of Dickcissel’s this year—their numbers vary quite a bit from year-to-year in this part of our state—and I mentioned this to Joann as we drove. “Maybe we’ll see one today. This should be a good spot for them.” (This is a bird that we feel like we should have seen by now. They aren’t always common around here, but they’re not a rarity either.)

The grosbeak spot wasn’t hard to find. There were two cars pulled to the side of the lonely road, and binoculars and a spotting scope were in evidence. One of the birders told us that she had been on site for about fifteen minutes and hadn’t seen the grosbeak.

DickcisselAlready, though, we were hearing an unfamiliar bird song: “Dik-dik-dik sizzzzzzle.” Unfamiliar, because we’d never heard it, but with a familiar ring to it nonetheless. Gotta love those onomatopoeic bird names.

There were several Dickcissels singing, flying around, and perching in the area. With yellow breasts and black chins, they looked a little bit like miniature meadowlarks. I managed to get lousy photos of a couple of them, including this one of a singing male perched on a guy-wire near the side of the road.

Species  Blue Grosbeak / Passerina caerulea
Where 140th Street near Rosemount, MN
When July 2, 2011
Who Joann
Number 351

We’d made the drive, though, to see a Blue Grosbeak and we weren’t disappointed. According to the M.O.U.’s occurrence maps, this species has only been seen a handful of times in our part of the state (it’s an uncommon, but not rare, breeder in the southwest-most counties of Minnesota).

Blue Grosbeak stuffed toyNo more than about ten minutes after we arrived, the male showed itself. He perched and sang on a telephone wire not far from one of the Dickcissels. As luck would have it, my camera battery died as I attempted to snap a photo of the grosbeak. So after getting my fill of watching the bird through my binoculars and listening to it sing, I paused to change batteries.

That was the signal for the bird to leave, of course, and I didn’t manage to capture the bird on film. But it looked exactly like the stuffed toy bird pictured here. Well, almost exactly.

See lifebird index.