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Common Grackles Habits

In Spring, hundreds of Grackles arrive in my neighborhood causing havoc. Filling the trees like black leaves and making an enourmous amount of noise.

Usually they gather in the morning flying from tree to tree and squaking until a large number have gathered. Then out of nowhere a group flies off. Seconds later another group follows. This contiues until all are gone. And just like that, everything gets quiet again.

Grackles are related to the Red-winged Blackbird. But unlike the Red-winged Blackbirds, these birds nest in colonies and only protect the area of the nest.

Their mating, nesting, and feeding habits are better observed as a group and not as a single pair. Since they tend to be colonial in nature, distinquishing a pair of birds from a flock can be difficult.

Description

Measuring about 12 inches in length. Males are black with iridescence on head back and belly. Iridescence on body is purplish on birds from Southeast to S. New England, bronze on birds elsewhere.

Females are similar to males, but with a shorter flat tail and less iridescence.

Mating Habits

Following one female, several male Grackles will land around the female and perform several different displays in an effort to attract the female.
Common Grackle
Common Grackle

In flight you can identify the males as they will fly with the V-tail flight display during mating season.

As the mating and courtship season continues, the number of males following a female decreases until there is just one male to one female.

Nesting Habits

Both Male and Female will bring nesting material to the nest site. This is done over a period of time lasting from 1 to 4 weeks, but it's not the actual act of nest building.

The actual nest building is done after this period, and by the female only, which she completes in about 5 days.

The nest is made of grass, twigs, reeds, and mud. The inside is lined with finer materials.

You can find the nest located in a shrub or tree 3 to 30 feet above the ground or water.

The female will lay 4 to 7 eggs that are pale greenish brown with dark marks.

Incubation of the eggs will last about 13 to 14 days with the young leaving the nest in about 12 to 16 days after hatching.

During this time the male Grackle may guard the nest while the female feeds. Also the male may pair with a second female during this time. In such cases he rarely returns, and the female bird then raises the brood by herself. Only 1 brood each season.

Feeding Habits/What They Eat

Video of Grackle
These birds will frequent backyard feeders primarily during spring and summer in large numbers. They feed on a variety of seeds. Two of their favorites are sunflower seed and cracked corn.

Sometimes they can be a problem at the the feeders by emptying the feeders so quickly and keeping other, smaller birds away. If they've become a problem for you, try selecting a type of feeder that restricts larger birds like these from feeding.

My favorite way of keeping them out of the feeders is by using Caged Bird Feeders. These allow the smaller birds in while keeping the large birds out.

In Fall, they'll form huge roosts that by winter, will include Red-winged Blackbirds and Cowbirds that can number in tens of millions of birds, and be a nuisance if located near urban areas. Large flocks can damage grain crops.

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