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Something to grack about: Grackles are an adaptable bird species with a raucous caw, keen yellow eyes, and glossy black wings. This noisy male grackle stood his ground in one of the trees surrounding a popular San Marcos grazing spot, the big HEB parking lot.
Photo by Celeste Cook

Exploring Nature: Austin Grackles

Sunday, March 24, 2024

I was having a leisurely lunch at a café in Austin recently. Our table was inside, but other folks were at outside tables.

I was enjoying a medium- rare steak with veggies when I happened to see a strutting blackbird on the sidewalk outside.

It was a common grackle, a foot-long, lanky creature with an iridescent teal head, purplish wings and olive and purple body. It was obviously hoping the outside diners would drop some food or perhaps toss some morsel his way.

Now let us be clear about grackles: Some folks can’t stand this bird. “They crap everywhere and they make a lot of noise,” is one complaint.

Well, count me in the grackle’s corner. The male is black and sassy and the female is smaller, brown and much less iridescent. Both help control the insect population and both occupy a neutral place in the food chain – they eat things and things eat them.

Foxes and hawks in particular like to dine on grackles.

In Texas, we have the common boat-tailed and great-tailed types of grackles. As you might guess, the boat-tailed is found mostly along the coast.

With yellow, laser- pointer eyes and eerily glossy feathers, the common grackle has a call that has been described as sounding like a rusty hinge. A native of North America, it has greatly expanded its territory since 1880.

It is a social creature and often found in flocks. All in all, I think the grackle is an intelligent, handsome bird and I am always glad to see one strutting its stuff.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666