Tag Archives: Common Grackle

Evening at Ding Darling

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I do love the summer clouds of Florida.

During our trip to Sanibel Island last week, we also drove through J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge one evening, to compare it with our morning sightings.

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The Roseate Spoonbills were actively feeding.

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Spoonbills feed in shallow waters, walking forward slowly while they swing their heads from side to side, sifting the muck with their wide flat bills.

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Also actively feeding: a Reddish Egret!

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Audubon, Reddish Egret

A conspicuously long-legged, long-necked wader of coastal regions, more tied to salt water than any of our other herons or egrets. Often draws attention by its feeding behavior: running through shallows with long strides, staggering sideways, leaping in air, raising one or both wings, and abruptly stabbing at fish.

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I really got into the Reddish Egrets on this trip. They are the rarest herons in North America and Sanibel is one place you can see them.

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Along for the ride again, the dawg.

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Incidentally, here is one of the dog-friendly things we liked about Sanibel. And it was so hot the whole time that we all needed to drink a lot of water and stay hydrated.

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Reddish Egret looks a little funny head-on.

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Families were also visiting the refuge in the evening, in search of snook. These folks were also watching a manatee.

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We spotted three Reddish Egrets in three different locations, all looking for dinner. All were pretty far away so the photos aren’t great, just good enough.

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Really unique coloring.

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One wing.

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Feathers on the head and neck look sort of shaggy at times.

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Common Grackle nomming the tree berries.

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Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

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Nature walk in Boston

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Animatronic robin.

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Just kidding.

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We went for a walk at Arnold Arboretum in Boston on Saturday and so did this big old snapping turtle.

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It crossed the paved pathway, traveling from one pond to another, while about 15 people stopped to observe and wonder.

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“That is the prettiest color,” said my daughter Laura. We were in town to celebrate her graduation from MassArt, BFA in Painting.

The nest, featuring robin’s-egg-blue eggs, was down low right next to the path.

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This Red-winged Blackbird has a distinguished and distinguishing shoulder patch of red and yellow.

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Tree Swallow on a nest box.

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Yellow Warbler in a thicket by a pond.

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Close-up of the Tree Swallow. Such a nice deep blue iridescence on its back and head.

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Over by the bonsai collection, a Common Grackle feeds its kid.

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Is that a potato chip or a moth?

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Ahhh!

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Chipping Sparrow hopping around in front of us, sort of camouflaged yet not.

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So this is where some of my winter friends have flown to!

In the artist’s palette of bird colors, this bird is Catbird Gray.

Grackles abound

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We went fishing under the Jensen Beach causeway bridge. We didn’t catch anything.

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This was interesting.

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Pretty much every cabbage palm had at least one noisy grackle. The whole park is full of their calls.

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I guessed they were males advertising a nice nesting tree, but I honestly don’t know.

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Hey, handsome.

The dawn of 2017

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Made it just in time to see the first sunrise of 2017! That seems lucky.

Husband and I took the dog to Santa Lucea Beach on Hutchinson Island for his morning beach run, chasing the ball over and over. Fishermen were catching bluefish. People were taking photos of the sun and the ocean.

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It is so great to go to bed early and then get up early for the New Year. That’s how it is when you are 50-something.

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My first photographed birds of the New Year: grackles running around at the gas station.

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I fueled up and my husband got us some coffee. Here he is watching the birds while the birds watch him back.

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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.

Grackles are old friends of mine, ever since the day I made that wish that came true.

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We stopped at East Island under the bridge next, to rinse the sand off the dog with a swim in the Indian River Lagoon. I spotted this solo Willet.

These long-legged, straight-billed shorebirds feed along beaches, mudflats, and rocky shores. Willets are common on most of our coastline—learn to recognize them and they’ll make a useful stepping-stone to identifying other shorebirds.

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East Island under the Ernest Lyons Bridge, with John, Radar and a fisherman wearing one of those straw hats I want.

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Also at East Island, a Little Blue Heron.

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More gray and purple than blue, if you ask me.

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Morning light is so nice.

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Happy New Year to all my bird, dog, and human friends!

The female Cowbird appears

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The female Brown-headed Cowbird made an appearance yesterday, a few hours after I spotted the male. Both seem to have arrived with a mixed flock of Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles.

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The cowbird and a male Northern Cardinal shared the feeder for a few minutes in the late afternoon.

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This is the moment my husband opened the sliding glass door to the back deck and both birds became alert, just before flying off.

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Common Grackle cleaning up the old bird seed in melting snow.

Why Do Blackbirds Form Large Flocks?Though many birds band together during winter, none are as notorious for their flocking behavior as blackbirds…red-winged blackbirds, European starlings, common grackles and brown-headed cowbirds.

This was a small flock yesterday, a mini-flock, maybe a transitioning-to-spring flock (if there is such a thing) with 6 or 7 grackles and about the same number of red-winged blackbirds, plus the cowbird couple.

Birdcast Regional Migration Forecast: 3-10 April: Upper Midwest and Northeast lists Brown-headed Cowbirds as “arriving.”

An annoyance of grackles

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Do you wish to attract lots of wild birds to your backyard? Be careful what you wish for.

For nearly a week a large flock of noisy Common Grackles (this is less than half of them) has been swooping in four or five times a day to gobble LOTS of seeds, nuts and suet, bother other birds, and poop purple and white grackle poop all over everything.

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

This morning after cleaning chicken poop out of the chicken coop, I hosed grackle poop off the deck and patio and chairs and hot tub cover. I remembered how much I wanted to work at the zoo when I was a kid.

Cornell: During migration, set up bird feeders in your yard with a variety of mixed grain and seeds. Spreading grain or seed on the ground helps, as this is where Common Grackles prefer to feed – and if they come to the ground they may let smaller birds continue to use the feeders. Bear in mind that too much grain scattered on the ground can attract rodents, so it’s best to sprinkle just as much as the birds are likely to eat at any one time.

I don’t need to scatter it – they do that themselves! We always have squirrels and chipmunks but this year a surprising number of rabbits have been making themselves at home under the bird feeder and in the clover.

One brown rabbit was in the chicken run when I put the chickens in last night. It couldn’t figure out how to exit the open door and kept crashing into the wire mesh of the enclosure. I wavered between helpfully shooing it out and catching it so I could pet it and feel its soft rabbit fur. The chickens chased it out before I could decide.

P.S. What is it with grackles and wishes?