In The Backyard: Pretty Birdy – NOT!

The term “Pretty Birdy”  isn’t something you associate with a grackle, but this particular species has its own sort of beauty — at least visually.

The iridescent black and blue feathers, such as those on this one I captured on one of our feeders, are certainly attractive, and that distinctive yellow eye with its black pupil stands out. But the habits of this particular species outdo the bird’s attractiveness.

Pretty Birdy?

The grackles usually start showing up in our backyard in June; often it’s a single bird. But I know when I’ve sighted my first grackle of the season, his mates won’t be far behind. That’s certainly true; just a few days pass after the first sighting, and we’ve got a flock on our hands.

Waiting for his “mates”

And what a noisy flock they are! Between that call that sounds like the swinging of a rusty gate and the flapping of those heavy wings (in comparison to the smaller fare we’re used to seeing), the grackles tend to dominate our feeders. Just now, as I write this post sitting on our porch in view of the feeders, a single grackle noisily flew in to a perch on a feeder, scattering a group of half a dozen chickadees and sparrows having an evening snack. What a lack of manners!

The grackles tend to leave en masse later in the summer; Brent is convinced that all the work I’ve done making the backyard more appealing to the birds I’d like to see has naturally made it more attractive to the grackles as well and we may be stuck with them for longer than usual this year. As long as they don’t totally crowd out the other birds, I’m OK with that. Actually, for their size, the grackles are among the most easily spooked and just opening our back door — even slowly — sends them scattering.

Pretty birdy? In a way, but mostly NOT!

Staff Writer Paul Sevensky is a communications specialist and amateur photographer.  When he isn’t shooting, he covers advertising and PR on his own blog, at www.paulsevensky.com. View all of Paul Sevensky’s posts on The Roving Photographer.

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2 Comments

  1. Same issue here but it’s with American Crows. They’ve discovered my feeders and now they’ll come hang out there. I’ve seen as many as 6 of them either feeding or hanging out on the fence. For the most part they seem to come around when the other birds aren’t around so I don’t mind them, for now anyways.

  2. Fortunately, *fingers crossed*, the crows in this region, although large and aggressive, don’t seem to bother my feeders. Not sure of the reason, but I’m just glad they don’t. The grackles could be moving out for the season; we’ll have to see.

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