Bird Brain

I’m just going to put it out there. Grackles get a bad wrap. They are a common bird around these parts. Sometimes, they gather in large groups, here or there. I’ve seen them hanging out on miles of telephone wire. But let’s face it — grackles are a staple of Middle America. And most people don’t like them.

I think people confuse them, often times, with the malicious Starling. But the Grackle is quite beautiful, especially when the light hits them just right. They are a mix of black, iridescent blue, purple, green, and sometimes even brown (females). They color shift right before our eyes. And they are very svelte.  Grackles look like they are going to the Oscars.

Their name is funny too. They sound like a snack mix. (Grackles. Frito-Lay Cheddar Cheese Grackles.) So, yeah. It is no wonder they forage the way they do. Grackles are not picky. They will eat just about anything. They will clean off a picnic table, eat little bugs, chomp on nuts and berries. Anything.

And put your hand over your heart, because the Grackle is native to this land. A true American bird, not like the others who flew right over our big wall, and immigrated. But there is nary a name for a big group of them. Like, Crows are a Murder. It is just a Group of Grackles.

Sometimes they are called the Common Grackle, but I would like to argue that, on any day. They seem pretty unique to me. But once again, we humans better be careful. The Grackles are declining in numbers. It’s estimated that their population is somewhere around 73 million. It sounds like a big bunch, but it is way, way down from their peak population of 190 million, not so long ago.

So yes. The other day I was watching a few of them. They were palling around with some Mourning Doves and a few Sparrows at our feeders. A Woodpecker, a Red-Winged Blackbird, and a Nuthatch flew in. (Sounds like the start of a joke. A Nuthatch, a Woodpecker, and a Blackbird walk into a bar. They ask the bartender for a big bowl of Cosmopolitan. And the bartender says… )

I know, I know. They are “known” to be pushy around feeders, and sometimes they will kill a smaller bird and eat it. So I have read. But I’ve never witnessed this. I frequently see them mingling, and everyone seems to be all honky-dory. Just a bunch of birds, eating together. It looked like a bird social media, without the media.

I guess that’s the point. Animals just do what they are supposed to do. And with that, some animals are misunderstood. But, don’t we all have our good and bad qualities? None of us are perfect. I’ve been known to be a little cranky from time to time. My little Grackle Streak, I suppose.

But, we are sharing the planet with them all. And I wish more humans would remember this.

As such, I’ve created a little field guide for birding. Sure. Clip this out.  Hang it on your fridge.  Pass them out to your friends at work. One day, I am going to put Audubon and Cornell right out of business.  And we.  We are going to save the planet.

Polly’s Bird Association List

Snack Food – Grackle
Sad – Mourning Dove
Hollywood Bound – Starling

Striptease Rodent – Titmouse
James Bond-ish – Goldfinch
Power Glitch – Flicker
I ran. You run. – Wren
Holy – Cardinal
Agricultural – Cow Bird
Colors & Letters – Blue Jay
I forgot the words to this song – Hummingbird
A Little Crazy – Nuthatch

And now you know.