This grackle is like a centerpiece in a cabbage palm bouquet.
Blue-black with a tinge of green, I love the iridescence of a male grackle’s feathers.
Female grackles are dark brown and smaller than the males. They go about their business, foraging with focus, while the males flash around, calling, and stirring up trouble.
This male grackle is pestering a crow who is working to get a peanut out of its shell.
I find grackles and crows under in the east causeway park, under the Ernest P. Lyons Bridge between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island. I was there yesterday. It’s close to home and I wanted to grab a few bird photos before the front passed through.
Looking north into a coming storm. It’s a busy park on weekends, in good weather. People fish here, have picnics, launch boats at the ramp, or go kitesurfing off the narrow beach.
The black band on its yellow bill identifies this as a Ring-billed Gull. There are more of them here in winter. They breed elsewhere, in summer.
A study in coastal grays. (That’s the Jensen Beach Bridge, further north in the Indian River Lagoon.)
Adults are clean gray above, with a white head, body and tail; their black wingtips are spotted with white. They have yellow legs and a yellow bill with a black band around it. Nonbreeding adults have brown-streaked heads.
Why do I think these are Boat-tailed Grackles? The other two species in North America are Common Grackles and Great-tailed Grackles.
Great-tailed and Boat-tailed have long tails like the bird above, but Great-tailed are not found in Florida. Common Grackles are smaller, with shorter tails, and they favor open fields, lawns, towns, but not marsh or saltwater areas.
When you smell saltwater on the East Coast, it’s time to look out for Boat-tailed Grackles. The glossy blue-black males are hard to miss as they haul their ridiculously long tails around or display from marsh grasses or telephone wires. The rich, dark-brown females are half the size of males and look almost like a different species. Boat-tailed Grackles take advantage of human activity along our increasingly developed coast, scavenging trash and hanging out in busy urban areas away from predators.
Of course crows also take advantage of human activity, like this one that has scavenged a peanut. The male Boat-tailed Grackle is on the left and Fish Crow is on the right. Crows are a bit larger than grackles, with a thicker bill and duller black feathers.
I know it’s a Fish Crow rather than an American Crow mostly because I learned a general rule from local birders that all crows east of Route 1 in this area are Fish Crows and I heard this one’s nasal call and saw it fluff its neck feathers like a raven.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology: How do you tell a Fish Crow from an American Crow?