Waiting His Turn (At The Feeder)

Uploaded 2 Jun 2018 — 5 favorites
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© JamesHarmon McQuilkin
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Photo Info
UploadedJune 2, 2018
TakenMay 9, 2018
MakeNikon Corporation
ModelNIKON D810
Exposure1/2000 sec at f/11
FlashNo Flash
Focal Length300 mm
ISO4000
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

Not for long, very impatient and usually commands attention around most birds.

The common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) is a large icterid which is found in large numbers through much of North America.

Adult common grackles measure from 28 to 34 cm (11 to 13 in) in length, span 36–46 cm (14–18 in) across the wings and weigh 74–142 g (2.6–5.0 oz). Common grackles are less sexually dimorphic than larger grackle species but the differences between the sexes can still be noticeable. The male, which averages 122 g (4.3 oz), is larger than the female, at an average of 94 g (3.3 oz). Adults have a long, dark bill, pale yellowish eyes and a long tail; its feathers appear black with purple, green or blue iridescence on the head, and primarily bronze sheen in the body plumage. The adult female, beyond being smaller, is usually less iridescent; her tail in particular is shorter, and unlike the males, does not keel (display a longitudinal ridge) in flight and is brown with no purple or blue gloss. The juvenile is brown with dark brown eyes.

The breeding habitat is open and semi-open areas across North America east of the Rocky Mountains. The nest is a well-concealed cup in dense trees (particularly pine) or shrubs, usually near water; sometimes, the common grackle will nest in cavities or in man-made structures. It often nests in colonies, some being quite large. Bird houses are also a suitable nesting site. There are four to seven eggs.

This bird is a permanent resident in much of its range. Northern birds migrate in flocks to the southeastern United States.

The common grackle forages on the ground, in shallow water or in shrubs; it will steal food from other birds. It is omnivorous, eating insects, minnows, frogs, eggs, berries, seeds, grain and even small birds and mice. Grackles at outdoor eating areas often wait eagerly until someone drops some food. They will rush forward and try to grab it, often snatching food out of the beak of another bird. Grackles prefer to eat from the ground at bird feeders, making scattered seed an excellent choice of food for them. In shopping centers, grackles can be regularly seen foraging for bugs, especially after a lawn trimming.

Along with some other species of grackles, the common grackle is known to practice "anting", rubbing insects on its feathers possibly to apply liquids such as formic acid secreted by the insects.

This bird's song is particularly harsh, especially when these birds, in a flock, are calling. Songs vary from year-round chewink chewink to a more complex breeding season ooo whew,whew,whew,whew,whew call that gets faster and faster and ends with a loud crewhewwhew! It also occasionally sounds like a power line buzzing. The grackle can also mimic the sounds of other birds or even humans, though not as precisely as the mockingbird, which is known to share its habitat in the Southeastern United States.

In the breeding season, males tip their heads back and fluff up feathers to display.

4 responses

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (2 Jun 2018):

    We see a alot of Common Grackles and they sure do like to take over the feeder...They and the young they are feeding have enormous appetites...You got an excellent capture.. Their eyes are so distinctive in color!!!

  • Heather Mellon

    Heather Mellon gave props (2 Jun 2018):

    You captured a great pose here.. the intensity of his look is so typical and expressive!

  • Tiia Vissak

    Tiia Vissak gave props (2 Jun 2018):

    a wonderful capture!

  • teresa B

    teresa B   gave props (3 Jun 2018):

    Very hard to get the feathers photographed with right color and light. You did excellent. Love that sharpness in detail.

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