Monday, July 8, 2013

Great -Tailed Grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus)


I didn't realize when I started bird watching and photographing birds, how I would get a peek into a whole other world and get the bonus of learning how fascinating birds can be to watch.

A lot of people think Great Tailed Grackles are nuisance birds, but I love watching them.  They stick their heads way back and pose.

Grackle Pose BSP















They make the strangest mechanical sounds; clicks, whistles, and robotic sounds.  They roost in large groups on telephone wires and in trees, and make quite a racket.

This is a short video I took at the corner of Shary and US 83 Frontage Road in Mission:
Grackles roosting

Grackles sometimes wash their food before eating it.  They love our community swimming pool for washing their food and themselves.
Grackles at pool
The male Great-Tailed Grackle is eighteen inches from stem to stern.

The great-tailed grackle is known to eat insects, lizards, aquatic invertebrates and vertebrates, fruit, grain, and grass seed.
Grackle with peanut NBC

Female Grackle 4

They are very social.
Grackle Party NBC 2013

Great Tailed Grackle in full “song”.















The great-tailed grackle was historically almost exclusively found in South and Central America, but human alteration of the environment has caused the birds to expand their range to include parts of the United States and Canada.

In Mexico, where it is known as the Zanate, there is a legend that it has seven songs.  "In the creation, the Zanate having no voice, stole its seven distinct songs from the wise and knowing sea turtle.  You can now hear the Zanate's vocals as the Seven Passions (Love, Hate, Fear, Courage, Joy, Sadness, and Anger) of life."  Mexican artisans have created icons in clay, sometimes as whistles that portray the sea turtle with the Zanate perched on its back.
(Wehtje, W. 2003)

So that is my tale of the Great-Tailed Grackles and their strange and wondrous behavior.