Today, I had a co-worker ask me, “Is it possible that I saw a bird called a dick-shizzle?”
I don’t think they were using Snoop Dog speak to talk birds, I think he mean dickcissel. It is possible to see them, but it’s a bit early, but in migration anything can happen. He said that it had yellow on either side of its chest and yellow on top. I knew exactly what he saw:
A yellow-rumped warlber. These early arriving warblers have already passed through the southern US but they’re hitting Minnesota hard as they work they way north to their breeding grounds. This is the time of year that I would expect them, but because we’ve had a cold snap with rain and snow, they are having a challenging time finding food, part of the risk of an early return. They eat insects, but they are scarce, they’ll go for seeds, buds and fruit. You might even see them flitting around the bird feeder going for suet or sunflower seeds.
This bird has a couple of different names, one is “Butter Butt” because it looks like there’s a pat of butter on their rumps, the other is “Myrtle Warbler” because there are two different types of yellow rumps, an eastern version (the Myrtle) and a western version (the Auduobn’s).
They’re very noticeable as they dart around tree branches and flit around on the ground flashing periodic patches of yellow. Their call note in flocks almost sounds like a kiss, you may have noticed it while walking around your neighborhood.
Yellow-rumps are the last warblers to leave in the fall and the first to arrive in spring. These tiny, hardy birds are the warning that all those crazy colored warblers that birders go ga ga for are about to arrive. Enjoy them while they last.