Monday, January 08, 2007

The horde

A large flock of Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula). Click picture to see more detail.

(If elected I promise...) A bird on every limb.

I used to see large flocks like this a lot when I was a kid, but nowdays not so much.

Don't hate grackles because they're loud and numerous... according to the Hilton Pond site, they're one of the few birds that will eat Japanese beetles!


I love it when the Dictionary of American Bird Names (Choate) gets saucy. For Quiscalus it includes,
The use of a word meaning "quail" seems out of place for a genus in the family Icteridae. [blackbirds]
quiscula, another spelling for the generic term adding to the variety by changing the gender. We have been unable to determine why quisquilla, quaquila, quaquara, and quaquadra were passed by as they are all equally inappropriate.


robin andrea said...

I used to see large flocks like this a lot when I was a kid, but nowdays not so much. I think the same thing, Karen. I remember when I was young that the sky would be darkened by the flocks of migrating birds. I've tried to find photographs online from the 50s and 60s that would corroborate my recollections. So far, I haven't. I'm glad that you remember seeing large flocks too.

Anonymous said...

Wow, out here you just see flocks of pigeons and seagulls and they don't fly in groups as large as those. I love it when blogs show me things I just don't get to see out where I live :-)

lisa said...

I'm with you, this was more common when I was a kid, too. I used to love the noise they made, until I saw Hitchcock's The Birds...then the charm wore right off!

Anonymous said...

We don't have Grackle's in Oregon. That's a lot of them!!

I konw every bird serves a purpose - but I think Starlings are the worst.

MamaHen said...

Eat Japanese beetles! Yea!!!

Anonymous said...

You must have a huge pile of beetles to attract that flock.
Hope they cleaned up their mess before they left..

R.Powers said...

Parking lot birds. Grackles have colonized the vast parking areas outside Targets, Walmarts, etc and are experts at snagging dropped fries, popcorn, etc.

Ki said...

Usually we see huge flocks of grackle and blackbird mixed but this year only the starlings seem to be flying around in great numbers. In the evening we see a great number of crows flying usually singly or in pairs making a long line of birds to their roost.

Anonymous said...

I eat fries (rarely) and popcorn (often) and yet I don't poop purple and green all over the siding on people's houses. They also have that same iridescent coloring as Arby's roast beef.

These are not my favorite birds. This many crows, this many chimney swifts- I can enjoy. This many Grackles and I, too, think Hitchcock.

But great pictures! This comment reads sort of like a snarky school report card: "Picks inappropriate material for discussion time, but good effort!" Sorry about that, Karen. :-)I'll do better next time.

KatyaR said...

Yeah, you don't see them because they're all here in Oklahoma City! Just down the street from my apartment, as a matter of fact. They're usually gone by the middle of December, but this year a lot of them have decided to hang around. It's really bizarre.

I have a couple of crappy videos of them that I took a month or so ago posted on my blog ( I know they drive most people crazy, but I'm fascinated by them. And wow, are they LOUD!

Rachel said...

I saw a bunch last year come through and they sat in the trees for awhile and were so noisy! After awhile they moved on!

dmmgmfm said...

My mom was always a bird lover. She used to get so mad when the Grackles would come. They ran off all of the songbirds and made a real mess of things. I think she would have felt better about them had she known they ate Japanese Beetles.

Rurality said...

Robin, the odd thing is that from what I've read, the clearing of most of the forests is actually what caused an increase in grackles. So it makes sense that as there are fewer family farms, the grackles are also in retreat.

JC it's funny, after saying I didn't see these large flocks much, I saw more of them yesterday! But those were different: a narrow swath of birds that was probably a mile long.

Lisa, yep they are a lot more charming if they keep right on going. :)

Karmyn, my old birding teacher told me that starlings are great... if they are in England, where they belong!

Annie, do you think we could train them?!

H&B2, I think I scared them away by taking their picture. (A lot of people are like that too.)

FC they are not like that here! But I have noticed that behavior in FL. Here the parking lot birds are all house sparrows.

Ki, we have been lucky enough not to have many starlings or even cowbirds here.

Vicki, I sense that you have some past unresolved issues with grackles! :) These grackles seemed very flighty. I've read about people who can't get rid of them, but I always have trouble getting them to hang around long enough to take a few pictures.

Katyar, I'll go have a look! Yep they definitely announce their presence, unlike some sneaky, stealthy birds whose names I won't mention.

Rachel, as kids we loved that noise. We'd run outside to see the huge flocks. My favorite part was when they'd fly from one tree to another en masse.

Laurie, ours never stick around long enough to make a mess! But I can imagine that you wouldn't want them near your car. :)

lisa said...

Just one more thing...if you want "colorful poop" from your birdy friends-plant a mulberry tree! Works every time...