Monday, September 27, 2010

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers 09/27/2010

Grackles, grackles, grackles….what interesting little guys! I have watched them over the years as they find my yard a most hospitable place to nest and hang out. They seem to be perfectly depicted by the nursery rhyme that ends “and when she was good she was very, very good and when she was bad she was horrid.”

On the horrid side (we’ll get that out of the way quickly), they have been seen flying away from the finches’ nest in the olive tree with nestling finches in their very black beaks—offerings for their own young, I suppose. I know it is nature, but it just seems so harsh. I guess I don’t mind as much if they have beaked a grasshopper or caterpillar…my own prejudice.

The good side refers more to their seeming intelligence or at least cleverness. For example, I am finding pieces of bread (I imagine I have a neighbor that puts it out for them.) in my fountain. They pick up these diced cubes of crouton like bread pieces and rather than down them like that, they prefer to dunk them in the fountain. The grackles that hang out in my pool yard have taken to landing on my chlorine floats in the pool…using them as a staging area to dunk their bread and whatever else they choose to moisten up before chunking them down the hatch…another clever adaptation.

I was told Saturday that the robber “sweet beaked” grackles raided our golf tournament this weekend. As Nina sat at the outside table awaiting the return of the golfers, the grackles took the opportunity to rob the tables of their sugar packets. Regular sugar, brown sugar, Sweet ‘n Low, Equal…it didn’t matter. They would land on the table, pick up a packet, fly off to a safe distance, peck a hole in the packet, find a loose piece and tear a long strip out of it. Then they would proceed to scoop it into their beaks with a relish! They were seen flying away with a tell-tale ring of white powder set off nicely on their very black beaks. Nothing like getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar or beak in the sugar packet…busted!

Can someone out there give me a good reason why grackles aren’t considered corvids? They are so raven and crow-like…handsome in their sleek iridescence and bold in their strutting ways and always interesting to watch…or is it just me?

No comments: