Our now-standard groups of hundreds of Grackles didn’t visit today. They left yesterday around brunch and only one returned today just before dinner. He sat on the pole that supports the wooden feeder. Perfectly posed, though it was late in the day. It was already after four with dusk halfway home.

I took quite a few pictures of this bird. Each picture shows him in a slightly different color. Say what you will about Grackles. In the right light, they are exceptionally beautiful.

I also noticed today that Grackles have “sunglasses” built in their eyes. When the sun gets really bright, their inner eyelid pulls across his eyes. The more I learn about Grackles, the more interesting I find them. They are also one of the few animals that is truly born to live in North American. Specifically, the eastern part of North American from about Washington DC north into Canada. They evolved in this region and this is their home. They have no other place to be.

Although they are not yet threatened, their numbers have diminished from around 190 million to around 73 million. That doesn’t sound like a big deal until you realize that mean 123 million Grackles died in the past few years. We keep reducing the available space for wild creatures. And while we may not realize it, we are simultaneously reducing our own living space, turning the comfort of greenery into asphalt and cement.

I try not to think about it because I find it so deeply troubling — and because I feel so helpless. I feed the birds. I sent $10 a month to support the birds, but there’s nothing more I’m able to do. Some other generation is going to have pick up those batons and start running like mad. Let’s hope they have fantastic legs, every last one of them.

It’s dangerous to fail to recognize what such a steep drop in the number of birds can potentially mean for a species, especially one like Grackles who move in big flocks. There are few places for them to live. The great woods are gone. All that are left are little patches, like the one in which we are living.

I really would love to give them more support. But our little 12X12 square foot deck is an unrealistic setting for a few hundred birds. We aren’t set up to take on hundreds of grackles and our budget isn’t big enough to buy enough food for so many birds. It’s hard to make decisions about whether to try to support a huge invasion like that. If we were rich, we could but if we were rich, we’d probably be unwilling to put up with the mess big masses of birds make.

In any case? We aren’t rich. Every time I have roust the Grackles, I wonder: “Where will they go? Where is there room for them? Where can they safely nest? Where can such a big group find food?”

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I can feed the smaller birds, but a few hundred Grackles is too much for us.

It still makes me feel bad. I really believe that everything and everyone — humans, birds, woodchucks, squirrels, birds (predators and prey) and more — all deserve a meal and a place to nest.

Categories: #Birds, #gallery, #Photography, Anecdote, Grackle

14 replies

  1. Lovely closeups.
    They look like posh starlings to me.
    Starlings fly in beautiful formations called murmuration.
    Spinning and moving with a fluid movement that is beautiful to watch.


    • They do very much resemble starlings except that starlings are imported from England in the late 1800 while grackles evolved in North America and are one of the few entirely American birds. They live exclusively in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada. They are down in Texas I am told, but that seems to be as far as they have gone.

      Grackles are beautiful to watch, though when dozens of them drop by your deck, that’s a lotta birds! Starlings form flocks sometimes, but grackles always travel in flocks. It’s rare to get one or two grackles. Get one or two, bet that a couple of hundred are not far behind. But. They do resemble each other in form and color, though the way their coloration is arranged is different. I’m sure they could travel together and confuse people 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Same with our busy starlings.
        Damp morning a flock will suddenly descend onto our grass around our bird feeders and hoover up the last grain of fallen seed then they spread out an search the rest of our garden, Then, suddenly, like a silent command is given, the whole lot lift off with that lovely whirling sound of their wings and are gone.

        You can’t beat nature for lifting your spirits.


  2. Bravo! Well written (and shot). At least you are doing SOMETHING, not sitting on your hands wishing. Humans (IMHO) have lost the ability to appreciate nature’s wonders and disregards the fragile balance that nature requires by building and paving over and infesting the world with so many people that everything else is killed. That’s lethal thinking too. Hopefully by the time the earth has had enough and decides to rid itself of the infestation, you and I will be long gone. Humanity has once again proven too stupid to live and natural selection takes the day. Beautiful photos! You do such an amazing job, you are a true artist! I’ve taken a liberty and ‘borrowed’ one of your beautiful photos (with credit to you and a link to this post) for Word of the Day tomorrow. I hope that’s okay with you.


    • You are welcome to use any of my pictures you want and thank you for liking them!

      There were no grackles this morning. Not even that one loner, but I think I saw them in the woods, so maybe a couple have decided to nest here. A couple of them would be fine. When they don’t swoop down in a horde, they are just birds like any other.

      I think you are right. We are obviously — as a species — too stupid to do what it takes to keep from dying out. It’s appalling, but while we are killing the wild creatures, we are also killing ourselves, even if most people simply won’t recognize it. I may be wrong, but I don’t think people were meant to live on concrete and drink polluted water. But, that’s what we appear to be doing and I don’t see any plans to even begin to fix the problem. Taking pictures seems to be the outside limits of what I can do. It’s not EVEN a drop in the bucket — but it’s the best I have to offer.


  3. Look at its colors. Amazing



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