True to their name, male blackbirds can be spotted easily thanks to their black feathers and bright yellow beak.
The 5 Species of Blackbirds Found in Texas- Great-tailed grackle.
Grackles have their good points: They eat bugs and rodents and charm fans with amusing behavior. 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.
Males have a bright yellow bill and distinctive yellow eye ring. Females have a duller, yellow-brown beak.
The black beak merely signifies it is a first winter male and it normally changes to yellow between Dec and April, so a black beak doesn’t last too long after the bird gets its first adult plumage.
Ravens Don’t Have Yellow Beaks
They are not ravens or crows, but a kind of thrush. Birds like the Alpine chough (yellow beak) and the red-billed chough (red beak) are not really “ravens and crows”, but part of the wider crow family.
In summer starlings have yellow bills and pale spots on their backs, which blackbirds, cowbirds, and grackles never have. In the winter starlings are covered in bright white spots that these other species lack.
Common Grackles are blackbirds that look like they’ve been slightly stretched. They’re taller and longer tailed than a typical blackbird, with a longer, more tapered bill and glossy-iridescent bodies. Grackles walk around lawns and fields on their long legs or gather in noisy groups high in trees, typically evergreens.
Great-tailed Grackles are the type Texans are most familiar with. Males are large and lanky, glossy violet-black, and pale yellow eyes. Females are brown and about half the size of males. Since they are smaller and require less to eat, female Great-tailed Grackle chicks have a higher survival rate than males.
Grackles and Crows belong to different families; grackles are icterids while crows are corvids. Crows are also generally larger and heavier than grackles and have different colored eyes. In terms of sexual dimorphism, the grackles surpass the crows.
Oberholser (1974) indicated abundance of Common Grackle is higher in Texas in winter as migrants from further north add to the resident population. The breeding season extends from early March to August with egg dates from April 12 to June 17 (Oberholser 1974).
Grackles are ground foragers that eat anything from seeds and fruit to invertebrates and fish. Grackles may be attracted to your garden, lawn area or song bird feeders as a food source. Remove feeders to limit this attraction. Remove leftover food on the floor and tables of open-air eateries.
She says that while some grackles are native, legions of the birds flock to Central Texas each winter. These birds like to hang out in grocery store parking lots and along the side of major roads. Yorzinski said this is because they are attracted to the lights at night, where they can remain active.
They are a gregarious bird and do not shy away easily around humans, although you are unlikely ever to see a Blackbird perch on your hand like the ever popular Robin.
Economic impacts. The Common Blackbird can be a pest in orchards, parks and gardens, being rather destructive of ground vegetation, particularly backyard vegetable patches.
How many of you reading this right now have to pause for a second and think “hmm, now that I think about it, crows really don’t have yellow bills?” That’s right, they have solid black bills. I’m not even going to ask how many people had to wonder if they thought crows usually wore straw hats.
Ravens have bigger, curvier beaks relative to crows. While both species have bristles at the base of the beak, the raven’s are noticeably longer. Its throat feathers are also quite shaggy. Common Ravens are much less common than American Crows in the Eastern United States.
“To many, ravens symbolize death or bad fortune to come, but to others they symbolize rebirth and starting anew, serving as a positive sign,” says Dr. Kim. In Norse, Celtic, and Druid mythology, crows and ravens are widely viewed as beacons of intelligence.
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.
The most obvious differences between grackles and starlings are that starlings have dark eyes, pinkish legs and a short, slender yellow bill (breeding birds), whereas the common grackle has dark legs, dark bill and yellow eyes. Grackles are also generally larger than starlings and also have longer tails.
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.