(Spiza americana)


Picture of bird
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The Dickcissel nests in the east-central portion of the United States and breeds irregularly in Canada (Godfrey 1986). There are no surveys in Canada that monitor this species. However, data from the Breeding Bird Survey for Canada and North America, which includes mainly birds from the United States, suggest that the current breeding population is relatively similar to that of the early 1970s. Earlier declines are attributed to targeted control programs on the wintering grounds in Venezuela, where Dickcissels are considered serious agricultural crop pests (Temple 2002).


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Not applicable2015 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLittle ChangeLowAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada500 - 5,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

The Dickcissel has adapted more successfully than most grassland birds to the loss of native grasslands on the Great Plains. These birds now seem to prefer fallow agricultural fields and hayfields to native prairie for breeding, and feed extensively on grain crops on their wintering range (Temple 2002). They have been targeted by chemical poisoning campaigns in Venezuela to control damage to rice and sorghum crops; these programs were likely the cause of the population decline in the 1960s and 1970s (Temple 2002).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type