Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Common Grackle

In the right lighting, Grackles are very pretty birds. Their feathers are glossy and they sparkle in the sun.


But they are also the ones that drive people who feed birds a little crazy. They have ravenous appetites and arrive in large groups wherever food is to be found. Like my backyard.


They need the extra fuel during migration to make it to their breeding grounds, so they just eat their way through whatever they can get their beaks on.


Their appearance can be very discouraging to all the other birds that have been enjoying the food you offer. Grackles are quite large and can be rather aggressive at the feeders. They simply push the other birds aside to get to the food.


The good news is that once insects are out in full force, grackles will go for those instead, and spend less time at your feeders. While they migrate, and during the winter, Grackles eat mostly grain, seeds, acorns and some fruits. But during breeding, they prefer to dine on grasshoppers, bees, crickets, spiders, earthworms, snails and other invertebrates.


Congregating in large numbers also enables Grackles to detect birds invading their territory, and predators, which are mobbed en masse to deter the intruders.


Grackles prefer to eat from the ground, so scattered seed is a great way to limit their presence on the feeders. It doesn’t always work, though. They can be quite determined at bird feeders. Even on the ones that can’t quite accommodate their size.


These birds have some unique habits such as the habit of taking hardened pieces of bread or dog food and dipping them in water and eating them after they have softened.


These birds are very familiar in North America. Their appearance in March is one of the first indicators that spring has arrived.

14 comments:

  1. Grackles can show gorgeous colours in the right light, but yes, they are pests at the feeders. We get huge flocks of them from time to time and they eat everything in sight.

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    1. They'll be moving on soon, so it'll be a relief. I don't put food out regularly right now because of them.

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  2. Well I didn't know about grackles, and they DO look cool in the sunlight, but let me say this, survival of the fittest! If they push other birds out of the way, then those other birds need to either push back or starve! We get this one squirrel at our feeder a lot and it drives my wife nuts because he barrels in and knocks the other birds away; but I always figure that that's just life and if the birds can't hold their own, then the squirrel gets the food! :-)

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    1. Ha ha ha... I keep telling the Cardinals that; they're the biggest pushovers out there! I share your wife's frustration with the squirrel. I actually have about four of them that show up. Drives me batty!

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  3. They are a gorgeous bird, but do have a greedy look to them. I like that third pic - he's keeping his eye on you!

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    1. I swear they watch me as they hide in the trees...waiting for me to load up the bird feeders. Their appetites are huge!

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  4. That's heartening to know they will eat insects too. They certainly do not have a very good reputation so it was nice to read a blog from someone who was sensitive to their finer qualities!

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    1. They certainly do have some good qualities. When they move on, my garden will become quiet again and the other birds will hang around.

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  5. We get a few grackles now and then but they tend not to hang around long. They do have an intimidating appearance! Nice post!

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    1. They have the perfect look for a Hitchcock film!

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  6. Martha girl they are very naughty .. and I have chased a few of them off here and there .. but yes ! soon they will move on and it will be more peaceful ? LOL
    Joy
    PS Our bunny hopped around the garden this morning .. John and I were glued to the deck door watching him ... he eats my crocus flowers !LOL

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    1. Oh cute, I haven't seen a bunny yet, and I really want one to stop by, so I can snap photos. But maybe not so cute?? They do eat things that we don't want them to. I didn't know they eat crocus. But they do eat one of my roses! Naughty bunnies.

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  7. Any bird that eats spiders gets a high mark in my book! :)

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    1. For me it's the grasshoppers. And if they eat mosquitoes, I love them! LOL...

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