Our feathered fiends.

The cable guy hasn’t arrived, but I’m getting a little wi-fi leakage from the neighborhood, so let’s carpe the signal, eh? Also, I notice my total number of posts has reached 666. Can’t let that sit for long, lest the Rapture catch me nappin’.

Anyway, I just wanted to take note of something that happened today when I was making my bed. I heard a thump at the window that I’ve come to identify as a misguided bird. When I looked down to see how the thumper was doing, however, I saw a scene that reminded me how nature is red in tooth, claw and beak.

Two birds, a grackle and a robin, had ganged up on a sparrow, which I assume was the bird that hit the window. Both had their wings spread and lowered in threat posture, and were taking turns pecking the crap out of this little sparrow. After a few pokes the robin backed off, but the grackle was merciless. Every time the sparrow would try to rise to an upright position, he’d move in for another smackdown. When it finally was still, the grackle picked the corpse up in its beak and flew away.

My jaw dropped. I thought grackles ate worms and grubs and other junk on the lawn. I had no idea they were predators.

Turns out I don’t know much: In rare instances, Common Grackles will attack and eat small birds and lizards, and in coastal areas they forage at the tide line for small invertebrates, even wading into the water to capture live fish.

So at least it was a rare occurrence. Sort of cool to see, in a bloodthirsty way, of course.

Posted at 10:15 pm in Uncategorized |

9 responses to “Our feathered fiends.”

  1. mary said on July 26, 2005 at 11:37 am

    It figures the robin backed off. They are so much nicer than grackles. People look forward to seeing their return in spring, and they are always pictured in children’s books. Grackles never look sweet in illustrations. Ever. I know a very nice person named Robin. If someone was named Grackle, they would likely have a job gassing puppies at the pound.

    358 chars

  2. Dorothy said on July 26, 2005 at 11:48 am

    … or perhaps a new character in the next Harry Potter book, someone more sinister than Snape!

    95 chars

  3. alex said on July 26, 2005 at 1:13 pm

    While you’re getting wi-fi leakage, this morning I’ve had my fill of hyphae leakage–this out of a woman with a shaved “escutcheon.” Such is the life of writing plaintiff medical chronologies for defense lawyers. Such fun words in medical charts, and they’re wasted on the desert air. The woman in this case was an unbelted passenger in a fender bender who’s suing because she delivered her baby prematurely. Oddly enough, her previous pregnancy the year before also resulted in premature delivery. And in both pregnancies she had a lot of spotting and premature contractions for the entire duration. And stressors like not knowing who the father was, and recurrent female infections of all sorts down there, and partying like the 21-year-old she is, neglecting to take her vitamins as her doctor ordered, etc. Just the typical sort of winner represented by the ambulance chasers who advertise on late-night TV. Hyphae and clue cells, whatever the devil those are. Love the lingo. It’s a bit much to digest, however, before lunch.

    1030 chars

  4. Claire said on July 26, 2005 at 3:12 pm

    My father always called grackles the “motorcycle gang.”

    He is an avid backyard bird feeder. When I was a child, we’d watch to see what would happen when, in addition to regular bird seed, he’d toss out pieces of bread. Sure enough, the “motorcycle gang” would descend upon the whole feeding area in a loud, squawky frenzy. Hmm, sort of like how it sounds living here in downtown Royal Oak on Thursday evenings!

    411 chars

  5. joodyb said on July 26, 2005 at 4:34 pm

    Motorcycle gang! That’s perfect. we have a bluejay so ferocious he keeps the grackles out of the back yard altogether.

    I have seen grackles eating carrion.

    157 chars

  6. Anonymous said on July 26, 2005 at 5:37 pm

    carpe the signal… you crack me up, nancy!

    43 chars

  7. Lance Mannion said on July 28, 2005 at 7:28 am


    Knowing you has always been a source of education for me. I didn’t know that about grackles. I hate grackles. You remember the poop deck on Rockhill? Grackles. I saw some grackles on the beach while we were on the Cape. I thought they were there just to be annoying. Now I know: they were hunting small invertebrates at the tide line.

    I expect the gulls will take care of them if they make too much of habit of this.

    437 chars

  8. kathy said on July 30, 2005 at 1:02 pm

    For all of you who haven’t looked it up yet, Alex’s reference back there to “hyphae” and “clue cells” is Pap smear talk. “Hyphae” are bits of fungus, as seen in the garden-variety feminine yeast infection. A woman with fungi may or may not be symptomatic, i.e., itchy. “Clue cells” are squamous cells from the surface of the cervix which are covered with bacteria not usually present on the cervix; this may or may not mean an actual cervicovaginal infection.

    462 chars

  9. Andrew said on December 15, 2005 at 12:22 pm

    I hate grackles too. I especially hate it when the people in my area (Dallas / Ft. Worth metroplex) brag about killing squirrels when grackles outnumber squirrels here 10,000 to one. Not as many people brag about killing grackles. In Texas, there are too many grackles and squirrel hunters, and too few squirrels.

    314 chars