My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Common Grackle, Quiscalus quiscula

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Common Grackle, Quiscalus quiscula

The common grackle forages on the ground, in shallow water or in shrubs; it will steal food from other birds. It is omnivorous, eating insects, minnows, frogs, eggs, berries, seeds, grain and even small birds and mice. Grackles at outdoor eating areas often wait eagerly until someone drops some food. They will rush forward and try to grab it, often snatching food out of the beak of another bird. Grackles prefer to eat from the ground at bird feeders, making scattered seed an excellent choice of food for them. In shopping centers, grackles can be regularly seen foraging for bugs, especially after a lawn trimming.

Along with some other species of grackles, the common grackle is known to practice “anting,” rubbing insects on its feathers to apply liquids such as formic acid secreted by the insects.

This bird’s song is particularly harsh, especially when these birds, in a flock, are calling. Songs vary from, year round “Chewink Chewink” to a more complex breeding season “Ooo whew,whew,whew,whew,whew” call that gets faster and faster and ends with a loud “Crewhewwhew!” The grackle can also mimic the sounds of other birds or even humans, though not as precisely as mockingbirds, which is known to share its habitat in the Southeastern United States.

In the breeding season, males tip their heads back and fluff up feathers to display and keep other males away. This same behavior is used as a defensive posture to attempt to intimidate predators. Male common grackles are less aggressive toward one another, and more cooperative and social, than the larger boat-tailed grackle species.

Grackles tend to congregate in large groups, popularly referred to as a plague. This enables them to detect birds invading their territory, and predators, which are mobbed en masse to deter the intruders.

Unlike many birds, the grackle benefits from the expansion of human populations due to its resourceful and opportunistic nature. Common grackles are considered a serious threat to crops by some, and notoriously difficult to exterminate and usually require the use of hawks or similar large birds of prey.

On to my photos:

Male common grackle

Male common grackle

Common grackle

Common grackle

Common grackle

Common grackle

Common grackle

Common grackle

Common grackle

Common grackle

 

This is number 54 in my photo life list, only 296 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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2 responses

  1. That’s a nice shot!

    March 13, 2013 at 6:11 am

    • Thanks! I normally wouldn’t photograph a grackle, and I have no idea why I hung on to that one, but it works.

      March 13, 2013 at 9:35 am