For example, in May alone, a birder from the Mansfield area located at least 12 Dickcissels in six different locations, including a bird singing from a willow, near cattails, and close to the Mansfield airport - not typical habitat for these birds.
I looked at the 1991 map depicting Dickcissel records in the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas. There are virtually no dots (records) in the eastern half of the state. Most Dickcissel sightings and nestings occur close to the Indiana border, and stretch east for a few counties, but normally don’t extend east to our area. Having said that, it is important to note that there have been “invasions” of Dickcissels during some years in the past. Bruce Peterjohn relates that history in The Birds of Ohio, second edition, 2001. “Between 1932 and 1934 a single field supported 150 in Lucas County and 50 near Newark, and between 1983 and 1988 at least 100 were found in a single Butler County field. A later invasion came in 1995 when there were 75-100 in the northwestern counties.”
Even when there are these huge numbers of Dickcissels present, most of them are west of us. Having many reports from Wayne and Holmes counties is quite unusual. If you are interested in looking for Dickcissels, try driving or biking along the rural roads in agricultural areas, especially where there are hay fields and pastures. Once you learn the distinctive song, it is easy to locate a singing male anywhere near the road. I heard my first one for the Holmes County Trail on June 13, while biking north of Millersburg.
History shows that even when there are large numbers of Dickcissels one year, the following year they may not be back. This may have a lot to do with conditions on their wintering grounds. From the breeding grounds in the central part of the U.S., Dickcissels migrate or winter in Mexico, through Central America and into the northern tier of countries in South America (Neotropical Migratory Birds, DeGraaf and Rappole, 1995). Some Dickcissels remain in the eastern part of our country during the winter, where they often associate with House Sparrows at feeders.
Published: June 11, 2012