Thursday, February 21, 2013

Once They Were Sentinels in the Coal Mines

 

 My husband said I should have titled this blog "The Harbingers."  These noisy and aggressive birds are found pretty much anywhere across the U.S. They are a blackbird, Quiscalus quiscula, and some find them a real bother at the feeders. My husband had a neighbor when he was growing up in Florida who used to take a spoon and pan and bang on it to drive the grackles from the trees in her yard. I question who was the noisier and more disturbing even though their song is somewhat harsh and squeaky.  You might mistake them for a crow, but they are not nearly as large or full in body shape.  I cannot honestly tell you if mine are the boat-tail ones, but they may be.  But spring is the time of the year when they show up in the dozens.

According to Cornell:  "You might see a Common Grackle hunched over on the ground, wings spread, letting ants crawl over its body and feathers. This is called anting, and grackles are frequent practitioners among the many bird species that do it. The ants secrete formic acid, the chemical in their stings, and this may rid the bird of parasites. In addition to ants, grackles have been seen using walnut juice, lemons and limes, marigold blossoms, chokecherries, and mothballs in a similar fashion."

Most people fail to see how beautiful these birds are unless seen in the correct light.



This above was taken through my window, because, like crows, they are very wary of man and farmers find them terrible pests in the corn fields.  Some are documented to live over 20 years...so I am sure they remember their enemies.



Their beady yellow eyes are off-putting and they do not take any argument from other birds.  My daughter said they have the color of gasoline.  Actually they do!






13 comments:

SueAnn Lommler said...

I think they are beautiful!
I love watching their antics
Thanks...beautiful pics.
Hugs
SueAnn

Brian Miller said...

they may be beautiful...but they def have a menacing look to them...ha

nice captures....

joeh said...

They can be pesty especially in large flocks, my mom hated them because they hog the feeders, but they can be beautiful as your picture shows. THe discription they have the color of gasoline is spot on!

Linda Reeder said...

I think the closest we have to these birds is starlings. We do have lots of crows.

Hilary said...

I love gracks.. their beautiful iridescent feathers look different in every light.

Barbara Shallue said...

Wonderful capture of their beautiful feathers!

Kay said...

Wow! These are such incredibly beautiful, CLEAR photos! I am in awe. I love the cedar waxwings on your header photo.

ellen abbott said...

I love grackles. they are bold and bossy, klacking and screeing, doing their mating dance around the females in the spring and when the light hits them right they are that beautiful blue with iridescent highlights. They have been congregating in my yard the last couple of days.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Oh I love when the grackles fly through -- noisy boisterous and always moving. Very interesting about anting. I will surely watch for this -- good post -- barbara

Shrinky said...

My God woman, you sure know your stuff behind a lens, these photo captures are wonderful - breath taking even. And do you know, I have hundreds of these little so-and-so's adorning our trees, but have NEVER appreciated how gorgeous their plumage really is up close. I do love their song, it's the best wake up call in the world!

ladyfi said...

These are some gorgeous shots!

Dave said...

That's a beautiful bird Tabor, except that their heads and beaks look menacing. I wonder if they are? Good photos - Dave

Jenny Woolf said...

I noticed many of them in Florida, haunting the outside eateries at Disney World, and they were indeed beautiful with those interference colours.