Friday, December 11, 2015

MA - Dickcissel in Gill 12/10

 Dickcissel - River Road, Gill, Franklin Co., October 7th, 2011.
In a poor view, it might be very easy to gloss over this species as a female House Sparrow.

Though I'm usually quite guarded about claiming 'heard-only' observations, there a few bird sounds that jump out as being absolutely unambiguous - Black Rail would be one of these, a song or call so distinctive that you really don't need to see it to be sure of what you're hearing. Yesterday morning was still, calm and slightly foggy. I was wrapping up a three mile jog when, amid a cacophony of post-roosting House Sparrows and House Finches I heard the clear rasping, buzzing calls of a Dickcissel coming from a private yard in Gill. It called half a dozen times or so before I jogged on and took a gamble on what to do next. It was 07:30 in the morning, folks were rushing to work and getting ready for school and the location was undoubtedly sensitive. I decided to return in the quiet of mid-morning with a camera and try and relocate it, an exercise which of course failed! The flock of House Sparrows and House Finches had dispersed indicating that the favored hedgerow was just a roosting spot and nothing more. I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open over the forthcoming days but in the mean time, here's a couple of pics of the only other Dickcissel that I've found in Gill on the much more typical date on October 7th (2011). Winter Dickcissels are not unprecedented in Massachusetts and some of them find refuge among House Sparrow flocks........all the more the reason to check those flocks of House Sparrow lurking around Franklin County! Looking at the above dorsal shot from Gill back in 2011 it's easy to understand why a Dickcissel might vaporize among a flock of good old Passer domesticus!

Dickcissel - River Road, Gill, Franklin Co., October 7th, 2011.
In a clear view, the sulphur-yellow breast and facial markings should jump out in any flock of House Sparrows.

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