04 January 2007

Why The Grackle?

To me, the great-tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) is a quintessentially Austin bird. Grackles are always in the background in this city, chitter-chattering in the trees by the thousands at dusk, squealing their siren-like calls during the days, and flocking overhead in large black drifts.

When I moved away from Austin in the 90s, it was often the grackles that I remembered. They were a kind of soundtrack to my memories of the place. And when I would visit, their sounds and movements beneath the live oaks greeted me like old friends.

Now to most Austinites, the grackle is one hell of an obnoxious and annoying bird. It’s been said that I’m courageous for naming a blog after this pesty thing.

But I find grackles to be quite a bit like people: messy and obnoxious in groups, crapping everywhere and on everything, and gathering in vast parking lots in front of big box stores. And like people, they are also beautiful to behold when given some time and looked at in the right light.

They are also a reminder to me of the impact that our species has on the planet, given their propensity for urban living and recent population explosion related to human population growth.

Thus, The Grackle.


Annie Fentz - Smith said...

I am a 4month newby to Austin, a transplant from the Midwest. (Love it here, btw) I posted recently on FB, the outloud laughter I get everytime I hear a grackle squeak like a rubber duckie. A friend posted that when she puts her talking birds'cage outside on nice days, a few grackles come around and mimic the same words that her cockatoo says! She also said her husband will whistle to them and they will mimic his whistle! Amazing! Annie

Combine Linda said...

I totally agree with you on the great-tailed grackles. They are truly magnificent birds and our largest, smartest and most majestic icterid, hands-down.
They just quit being such a novelty when en masse. Arlington now has hordes, where 40 years ago, only small, splinter flocks were found.

David said...

I'm glad you picked the Grackle as the namesake of your blog. When I think of my local birds the Great-tailed Grackle is at the top of the list. It is beautiful in it's own way and I love its bright yellow eye and huge tail. It's fun to watch at the bird feeder too.

Anne said...

In Houston at Memorial City mall near I10 in the morning there are HUNDREDS of grackles all lined up on the electric lines. It is a sight to see! I have to e careful or I will have a wreck!!

Found said...

I once had a blog entitled, Day of the Grackle and went by the name of either Grackle or Grackle Black.

I have always enjoyed watching this clown of birds. They are so amusing aand comical. Just toss out a torn up donut, sit back and relax. I consider them to be among the most resourceful fowl. I remember during one of our Texas droughts, they would bounce car to car eating dried bugs off of the bumpers and windshield wipers.

Watch a grackle. It never gets old.