Thursday, June 16, 2011

Love Those Grackles!

I love grackles. I love the sound they make as they scamper about the parking lot--that wild, squawking, tropical bird sound. I love watching them prance like royalty, lifting their feet high into the air. I love the way they follow me around my yard, waiting for me to sprinkle seed into the seed dishes, and I love watching them splash in the bird bath, then shake their feathers dry.

The Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) is in the blackbird family, though they are a bit longer in the body, and much more colorful and flamboyant. Common Grackles have bluish-purple on their upper body and head and their wings shimmer with shades of bronze and green. They have golden eyes. They have long legs, long tails, and longer bills than blackbirds.

Grackles like to hang out in large flocks, which can be rather pretty when you see a flock of fancy-tail grackles and the males are fanning their tails. They are often seen in fields, parking lots, and around fast food restaurants--they seem to enjoy cold french fries. They sound like a cross between a blackbird and a crow. Actually, they sound like a grackle. I can always tell when I'm listening to a grackle.

Yesterday, I sat in my dining room watching a Common Grackle high-stepping in the bird bath. I thought it was bathing, but it didn't do the usual dip, splash and shake. In fact, it stuck its head straight down in the water, then it came back up with a tiny grasshopper in its mouth and proudly pranced about the back porch before gulping it down.

Unfortunately, after completing both the Christmas Bird Count and the Great Backyard Bird Count, the National Audubon Society announced that the Common Grackle is number 14 on a list of twenty common birds in decline. I do hope their numbers rise back up. I cannot imagine walking through a parking lot without hearing their cheerful call!

No comments: