The Howard County
Bird Club

A Chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society (MOS)


Recently birders observed Dickcissels at a field adjacent to Underwood Road in Howard County. Several birds were observed carrying nesting material. This is very exciting because there are only two previous records of successful breeding by Dickcissels in Howard County in the last 55 years. Other species such as Bobolink and Grasshopper Sparrow have also been observed in the same area. Because of the unique possibility of breeding Dickcissels in this county, the Club's Board of Directors initiated a discussion with the property owner to explore options for maintaining the site with its current vegetation for a long enough period to allow the birds to breed. Since the site is on a working farm and this particular field was planned for a summer crop of soybeans, the Club offered the property owner compensation for the lost revenue in exchange for not planting until late summer. The property owner who, by the way, is interested in the birds and is pleased with the interest in them, accepted the offer. So, the Club will use funds from its Habitat Preservation Fund to compensate the farmer and give the Dickcissels and other field birds a chance to breed!

It is very important to remember that the Dickcissel site is, and will continue to be, private property. The agreement between HCBC and the property owner does not grant any additional access to the property. This agreement is truly about what is best for the birds, not the birders! There are no shoulders along this road so parking is challenging. Do not block the access road for farm equipment at the head of the lane on the south side of the field where there is a gravel pad. Please, continue to be respectful of all private property, perhaps especially so here because this property owner has been so accommodating.

Funding for this lease is from the Howard County Bird Club Habitat Preservation Fund. You may contributute to the fund HERE.

Dickcissel Male
Dickcissel Female
Bobolink Male
Bobolink Female
Grasshopper Sparrow (front)
Grasshopper Sparrow (back)

Dickcissel photos by Tony VanSchoor. Bobolink photos by John Harris. Grasshopper Sparrow photos by Bonnie Ott.