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The Dickcissel in California

Kenneth E. Stager
Publication Information
1 (January-February)
From Field and Study

The Dickcissel in California.-The Dickissel, a species indigenous to the midwestern United States, has not previously been recorded in California. There are, however, records of accidental occurrence in New Mexico, Arizona, and Lower California.

On September 29, 1948, Mrs. Norris Kittinger of Santa Monica, California, inquired by telephone about the identify of a strange bird which had come to her feeding station. I was unable to identify the bird from her preliminary description and called her again the following day. At this time she informed me that not only was the bird still there but that she had succeeded in capturing it alive. According to her, the bird first made its appearance at 5 p.m. on September 29;1948. It was observed sitting near the feed box and did not appear to be wary, but it refused to enter the box until all the other birds had left. It preened itself for a while and then entered and fed.

On September 30, 1948, at Mrs. Kittmger’s request, I went to Santa Monica and closely examined the captive. It proved to be an adult male Dickcissel (.!+a americana) in beautiful, fresh-fall plumage. Its legs were fresh and clean in appearance and gave no sign of having been confined in an aviary. The bird was extremely wild and refused to sit still upon the perch for even a second, another characteristic which would seem to indicate that it had not previously been confined in a cage. The freshly molted plumage was typical of the male of the species except that the black throat patch, instead of being very pronounced, consisted of a scattering of black-tipped feathers. The supraocular stripe was very yellow. During the course of my half-hour study of the bird, it hopped continuously from one perch to another, uttering a solitary, sharp chirping note every few seconds.

On October 9, 1948, Mrs. Kittinger informed me that she had changed her mind about keeping the bird and had liberated it, thus closing the story of the first Dickcissel for California.-KENNETH E. STAGES, Los Angeles Museum, Los Angeles, California, October 14, 1948. 

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