Adults often have an iridescent appearance on their head, especially males. Common grackles can be found widely across North America east of the Rocky Mountains.Common grackle.
|colspan=“2”>Common grackle Temporal range:|
Don’t call them trash birds. Grackles, it turns out, do more than weigh down power lines, steal tortilla chips off your dinner plate and squawk in really loud voices. The gleaming black birds actually play a beneficial role in our society. (Well, besides cleaning up those food crumbs you dropped on the sidewalk.)
Widespread and very common, and has been expanding its range toward the west in recent decades. Farmland, towns, groves, streamsides. Common in many kinds of open or semi-open country.
Grackle Symbolism and Meaning
For many people, the grackle is a symbol of courage. If you’ve ever met a grackle then it isn’t hard to imagine why this is. Grackles approach life with an audacious attitude and are rarely deterred by the presence of humans in their vicinity. Grackles also frequently symbolize thievery.
Grackles have an estimated population of 73 million in North America. These birds are native to North America but are considered a pest bird because of the damage they cause to agricultural properties and farming crops. In the US, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, grackles are protected.
Common Grackles are larger than Brewer’s Blackbirds with a longer tail and a heavier bill. Male Common Grackles have a bluish sheen on the head, whereas Brewer’s have a purplish sheen.
Are Grackles Corvids? Though they are each large dark colored birds, grackles are not related to crows. Grackles are in the Icteridae, or blackbird family, which includes orioles and cowbirds. Crows are corvids, more closely related to jays and magpies.
Crows have a subtle iridescent sheen to their feathers, whereas most grackle species have iridescence that borders on dazzling blue. Female grackles aren’t quite as flashy as the males. In most species, female grackles sport dull brown plumage. Conversely, both male and female crows have the same black-colored plumage.
If you see a grackle, or several grackles, staring up toward the sky, chances are they are all trying to win the same mate and show the other members of the flock who’s boss. This mating ritual is known as bill-tilt.
But sometimes a beautiful bird like Common Grackles can dominate other birds, and take over your feeders. These large blackbirds have huge appetites, travel in big flocks and can take over your bird feeders by eating everything they can get their beaks on.
Grackles may deposit these sacs in areas away from water but I have not witnessed it. If water is close by, they will take these gifts to it. So, with grackles and ponds you have bird poop everywhere — the amount depends on the number of Grackle nests in your neighborhood.
Grackles pose a major problem for property owners. They eat ripening corn as well as corn sprouts, foraging in large flocks to become a costly nuisance to growers.
Interesting Facts About the Grackle
Both crows and Great-tails can recognize individual humans. A Researcher’s Dilemma – Researchers studying both crows and Grackles (in separate studies) noticed that the birds did not use alarm calls when other people were nearby.
Grackles are aggressive birds who will colonize in large flocks. These birds are very noisy, and their gregarious nature is very apparent when observing their roosting and nesting sites.
Those raggedy figures out in cornfields may be called scare-crows, but grackles are the #1 threat to corn. They eat ripening corn as well as corn sprouts, and their habit of foraging in big flocks means they have a multimillion dollar impact.
Grackles are fairly smart, but they are not considered to be as smart as certain other birds like crows, ravens, and magpies. Grackles are smart enough to figure out where to find an easy meal and identify that a scarecrow isn’t real, but they are not able to use tools or mimic the sounds of other birds.
Many define grackles, starlings and pigeons, as pests. Crop growers see their fields being damaged by crows and blackbirds. Homeowners see them as bullies. Grackles scare their beloved songbirds from their bird feeders and steal their food.
Common Grackles eat other birds’ eggs and nestlings, and sometimes kill and eat other adult birds. They commonly eat adult house sparrows. Common grackles defend a territory around their nest. The breeding pair defends the nest by mobbing, chasing or diving at predators, including humans.
One of the smartest ways to scare away grackles is to use an electronic repellent, which can act as a grackle deterrent by emitting two types of sound. One of them is the sound that a crackle predator makes, such as the sound that hawks in flight make, and the other would be a standard grackle distress call.
Blackbird Symbolism and Meaning
The spirit of the Blackbird may either be a welcoming sign or one which brings bad news. These dark birds signify mystery and magic, and are thought to represent the Otherworlds (Borrington).
Although they resemble crows and ravens, grackles are not actually related to these birds. Instead, they are in the blackbird family of Icteridae, which also includes cowbirds and orioles. Grackles are smaller than either crows or ravens.
Measurements. Males are glossy black all over with a staring yellow eye and a blue sheen on the head grading to greenish iridescence on the body. Females are plainer brown, darkest on the wings and tail, with a dark eye. Immature birds look like washed out, lighter-brown versions of the females.
“Grackle” is an eighteenth-century Anglicization of the Latin graculus, which sounds a little like Dracula but means “jackdaw.” (Male grackles, when mating, with their arched shoulders and purposeful stalking and assaults on oblivous females, certainly resemble that infamous vampire.)
Some grackles do move south for the winter. Those that spend the summer breeding season in the northern and northwestern regions of their range typically migrate south to the warmer climates of the central and southeastern United States. The grackles already living in these warmer climates do not migrate.