|Spiza americana||Order: Passeriformes||Family: Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)|
This cool bird is a mystery to ornithologists. It ranges mostly across the middle of the continent, but may turn up in large numbers in pastures and fields elsewhere in the central and eastern United States—no one has teased out the reasons for these incursions, though at least some coincide with drought conditions within the Dickcissel’s normal range. The species can form enormous flocks, numbering in the thousands on migration and in the millions on its wintering grounds in Central and northern South America (primarily around the llanos of Venezuela).
Ornithologists have yet to work out the Dickcissel’s taxonomy. Currently it’s listed in Cardinalidae, the family with cardinals, Indigo and Painted Buntings, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, etc., but has also sometimes been classified with sparrows and blackbirds.