Here at the end of February, flocks of blackbirds are beginning to show up in the yard for the first time this winter. Mostly Brown-headed Cowbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds. I haven't seen a single grackle so far.
That's odd, really. A few years ago, one of the things that we could count on in winter was that huge flocks of Common Grackles would invade our street in mid to late winter. It was not unusual to see flocks of several thousand covering three or four front yards at a time as they made their way down the street. But for the last couple of years, the grackles have been mostly absent and this winter there have been none so far.
Many people disparage and dislike blackbirds, but I find them very interesting birds. Although you could never tell it from their voices, they are first cousins to orioles. You can see that in their body shape and posture and in the shape of their beaks. But in the extended family, the orioles got almost all the musical talent. I do like the conk-a-ree song of the Red-winged Blackbird though. It's a very pleasant background music for a late spring afternoon.