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Friday, August 10, 2012

Grackles in summer

It's unusual to have grackles in my yard in significant numbers in summer. We often see big flocks marching across our lawn and raiding our bird feeders in winter, but summer? Not so much. Sometimes individuals or pairs or family groups will visit in summer, but this season, things are different.

Starting about three weeks ago, big groups of the birds started turning up in my yard and at my feeders. They are not the huge flocks of winter, but they number perhaps 50 to 200 at their largest.

Very many of the birds seem to be young ones like this one. Their feathers are still grayish brown rather than the iridescent black they will become during the winter. It appears that the Common Grackles have had a very successful nesting season.

Some people might not consider that good news, but I confess to an unpopular fondness for this bird. Maybe it's because he's a bit of an underdog - underbird? - and is disliked in many quarters. And it is true that, when they gather in their huge winter flocks and choose to roost close to human habitations, their poop can create a bit of a public health menace. Moreover, because they are often persecuted by people, they can be quite shy, taking flight at the slightest movement or noise. They are not likely to hang around and entertain you as a cardinal or a chickadee might.

Nevertheless, I find the birds quite handsome and often quite amusing with their antics, if you can manage to watch them in their natural habitat doing natural things. So I'm not unhappy to see these summer visitors. Unusual, yes, and perhaps a portent of something we don't understand yet, but not unwelcome.  


  1. Wow! That is a huge flock. I'm always amused by the sounds Grackles make. I don't mind them as long as there is not a large number of them in a tree I park under;) Have a great weekend!

    1. Their "song" has been compared to the sound of a rusty gate swinging. Not a bad description.