Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Red wing black birds are our neighbors.  They're one of the first
to arrive when the weather warms up.  They stake out their nesting
areas near water.  There the males perch and flare out their
brilliant red epaulets and announce, "It's SPRING!" 

Yellow headed black birds hang out in marshy areas. 
Their voice sounds like the squeak of a very large, rusty hinge.

They have fancy white shoulder patchs to go with their bright yellow heads.

Other common black birds are the brewers black birds that gather in big flocks
as they prepare for their flight south, and the garrulous starlings with their
dark rainbow heads.  They're the bad boys that hang out in gangs and
take over and defend their turf with rude behavior.

I don't mind any of these birds.  They do a find job keeping down the insects,
and, even though they may not have beautiful voices,
they sing with plenty of gusto.  
It's the grackles that are on my list.  They are bigger than the common
black bird, have a long wide tail, and the males' heads are glossy dark blue.

They help themselves to everything in my bird feeder.

Everything.  They scarf down the seeds and nuts by the gobs.

They spill a lot into the hedge below but have no problem cleaning up the mess
all the while talking to each other with their rusty gate sound and
loud, "chuck" calls.

Lately they've been moving across our lawn like herds of black cows.
They're fattening up for their trip south.  I think it's great that they eat
the grubs, grasshoppers and cinch bugs.  No, what ticks me off is how they
gather like a flock of chickens and go through the bark mulch around my
rose bushes.

They dig through looking for food, scattering the bark chunks all over the sidewalk
and lawn.  I go out and rake everything back where it belongs only to find the same
mess an hour or two later.  Up in the trees I see grackles
looking up at the sky and whistling quietly.


Brian King said...

Nice shots! I laughed about the grackles! The robins do the same thing in our mulch looking for worms. It does get annoying. :-)

Alica said...

How dare they! But oh that's right...they only have one thing on their!
Here we have starlings, that hang out in the barn in the winter time and make a mess...all the while singing (?) their ugly songs.

susan m hinckley said...

I love red wing black birds ! a frozen Minnesotan, I EAGERLY await my first sighting every year. And there is no sweeter sound to me than their trill as they stake out their trees...

Joanne Noragon said...

Those are some beautiful pictures. The first time a herd of grackles make a sweep of our lawn I was incensed. I thought they would devastate it. But when there were almost no Japanese beetles the next spring, I loved having them. For that one day, anyway.

joanca bs said...

Nice shots i have too an ornithology blog can u vsit please, am interested in your

laurak/ForestWalkArt :) said...

OH i LOVE your shot of the yellow headed black bird on the cat-tails!!

as soon as i read your title...that Beatles song popped in my mind...Blackbird singing in the dead of night...and now it's stuck!!

you have some beautiful pic's here...those grackles make me smile...

CarrieBoo said...

They have beautiful torquoise heads some of those. The mess looks like my dogs were in your garden! I'm forever sweeping up wood chips. The second one is lovely, the yellow head; hadn't seen that before. And I really like the red winged black birds that I've started seeing around here. Now that you mention it, it is mostly black birds I've been seeing lately! When did that happen!

Linda Sue said...

Grackles- I had never heard of them until I went to Texas- Man! they are so not my faves! Nice photos of them- nicer than they deserve! The other ones are lovely!

Buttons Thoughts said...

Oh come on it is a long trip they are grateful for the meal before the flight. Your herd of black cows thank you I am sure:) They are kind of pretty:) Soon you will have snowbirds eating off the white ground then you can write about a herd of white cows. Well that sounds wonderful hope it comes true:)B

Anzu said...

They are beautiful and clever but gang up to behave wrongly.(ΘoΘ;)

Unknown said...

I've only seen the yellow-headed once (in KS)..great moment for me!

Now, the grackles..we see those daily. LOL!

Anonymous said...

Great photos! September means Spring in my part of the world so it is lovely to hear the birds heralding its arrival,finally, after a particularly cold winter.

Sarah said...

I would give up until they fly off! You have a great variety of blackbirds. We only have the one-the blackbird which comes in either black with yellow beak(male) or brown with yellow beak(female). They are one of my favourite birds-for their lovely song and distinctive warning call. Of course we do have starlings too. Grackle is a great name.

Carla said...

Ah, "Rusty Gate"---perfect description of that sound!! They are naughty guests for sure. Not paying a lick of attention to the fact that others need to eat as well. Kind of like the high school football team in the lunchroom.