Friday, April 6, 2012

Grackles Sure Are Here

I've noticed some common grackles around town lately, but I hadn't particicularly noticed any at our house. I got home after work today, though, and they had descended en masse. One was enjoying the new horizontal arrangement of a cage-type suet feeder, while others investigated our other feeders and the grass nearby. Many more were spread out some distance away on the neighbors' lawn. Altogether I counted about 50.

Grackles are quite handsome in their glossy, irridescent way, though they can be quite a nuisance to farmers and others with their large numbers and equally large appetites. They can appear to be black, blue, purple, green or bronze, depending on the light and distance. Their pale yellow eyes really stand out. Their long tail is another feature that makes them easy to identify.

We haven't had major problems with them in the past. Putting out safflower seed in the feeders for a while, which grackles and some other birds don't like, can be enough to send them on their way.

Right about this time of year in 2009 I commented on a grackle trying to be a feeder bird -- it was clinging to our caged tube feeder, which is for small birds like goldfinches and chickadees and is designed precisely to keep larger birds out.

Grackles can seem a bit thuggish as they stalk around, as if daring anyone to interfere. I expect they have a sense of safety in numbers, to some extent. However, after taking all of the photos here through my open car window, I opened the car door, stepped out ... and they were gone.

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