Like most birders, when on birding trips, I tend to focus on the most beautiful and/or least common birds and I often ignore our common birds. This is a great mistake because some of our most common birds are actually both beautiful and interesting. The Great-tailed Grackle is a case in point. I see so many of them virtually every day that I forget what wonderful birds they are. So here is a hymn of praise to this under-appreciated species!
The male Great-tailed Grackle in full, glossy plumage is a truly spectacular bird.
However, during the summer molting season, it looks much less spectacular!
The female is a little less spectacular but still quite a striking bird.
Young Grackles are rather similar but have speckled breasts - and, of course, they are constantly begging for food
When it comes to food, adult Great-tailed Grackles are great generalists. In the wild they prey on lizards, small mammals and bugs.
In more urban settings they are equally happy with whatever food items people provide.
A common sight is that of several males trying to outdo each other with their mating displays.
Grackles love bathing and I often see them splashing around in ponds and puddles.
Every time I take the ferry from Galveston to Bolivar, I notice that several Grackles hitch a ride on the boat.
Very gregarious birds, Grackles can often be seen roosting in their thousands on the utility wires by the roadside or in the parking lots of supermarkets.
So next time you see some large, dark-colored birds hanging out at your local Kroger or HEB, stop and look at them. You'll almost certainly find that the birds are Great-tailed Grackles.