An uncommon visitor to New Jersey, a trio of male Dickcissels were found earlier this week at Negri Nepote Native Grassland Preserve in Franklin Township. To add to the excitement of singing male Dickcissels in breeding plumage, a single female has also been spotted! One observer has reported that potential nesting material was being collected by one of the birds, and that one of the males was associating with the female bird. If the birds end up nesting here, it would represent a very rare case of breeding Dickcissels in the state.
It is also curious that these birds seem to have arrived on their breeding grounds so late in the season. Normally male Dickcissels will arrive at this latitude in late April to early May and began setting up territories for the eventual arrival of the female birds (about a week later). The Negri Nepote birds, however, seem to have arrived sometime in early to mid-June, with the males still singing ceaselessly on conspicuous perches as of this posting. One explanation could be that these are young birds that found their way to breeding grounds later than their more experienced relatives. This could also explain why they are seemingly making a relatively small grassland in central NJ their home for the summer.
Regardless of why they are here, they have already attracted many birders to this natural oasis. And we can all help them by staying on the mowed paths and not approaching too closely. Before we know it, there could be little Dickcissels chirping away from their nest!