Dickcissel

South Dakota
Waubay is a Sioux word meaning "a nesting place for birds." Waubay National Wildlife Refuge lives up to its name. Its 4,650 acres of lakes, marshes, grasslands, and woodlands, and an additional 40,000 acres of waterfowl habitat in Waubay Wetland Management District, make the Waubay Complex one of the largest duck production areas in the continental United States.

The Invaders
Canada thistle, a long-recognized noxious weed that represents a serious threat to American agriculture, has been spreading rapidly in recent years. Canada thistle thrives in non-forested plant communities such as prairies, barrens, glades, sand dunes, fields and meadows that have been impacted by disturbance. It crowds out native plants by shading, competing for soil resources, and releasing chemical toxins that inhibit the growth of other plants' seedlings. On the Waubay Complex, Canada thistle is rapidly infesting wetlands, grasslands, and riparian zones, threatening important bird and wildlife habitats.

Threat to Birds
Listed on Audubon's WatchList, the Dickcissel, which is a stocky, sparrow-sized songbird, nests in grasslands, meadows, savannahs, and fields. Although Dickcissels once nested as far east as the Atlantic Coast, they are now primarily a bird of the American Midwest. The species has recently experienced population declines due to threats to its breeding habitat as well as its wintering habitat in Venezuela. On the Waubay Complex, Canada thistle threatens important breeding habitat needed to protect this declining songbird.