ARTISTS AND BIRDS

"A Gibberish Conversation"

Great-tailed Grackles

        great tailed grackleAfter a hot summer, Grackles go through a molt to change their feathers. This is a ‘once every year process’ to trade worn out, weather beaten, bedraggled old feathers for a ‘new set of clothes’. Now all dressed up, in beautiful blacks, rusts, and tans, Grackles are ready for the winter season. Like kids going back to school and showing off their new clothes, it’s the same with Grackles. This year’s babies sport the colors of the female, and the adult males have striking black iridescent feathers.

        Well, it’s that time of year. It’s time for the parking lots to fill with Great-tailed Grackles, dressed in their new finery. Grackles don’t sing, they talk, and I like it when Grackles talk to me and to each other. If you would like to get in on an early morning conversation in progress, find a large parking lot, preferably with trees, and be there just as the sun is coming over the east horizon. At that hour there are few outside sounds, except for the gibberish of a Grackle here, a Grackle there, and another Grackle further away. The gibberish sounds are like ‘squeeeek’, ‘squaaaak’, ‘ruuuukkk’, ‘peeerrrrrk’, ‘cugge-cygge-cugge’, plkk-plkk-plkk’. If you would like a sparking moment with your children, or with your grandchildren, come with some good wheat bread, break and throw tiny pieces up in the air, to land in a safe visible area in the parking lot.

        These birds are smart! They spot every morsel tossed in the air and immediately the message goes out . . . ‘food, food, food, come and get it’. Wait a minute or two and the Grackles will come from all over! If you listen closely, you may hear a ‘thank you’ from a Grackle. I hope you do.

        Brenda Rusnell is the Artist of the male Great-tailed Grackle. If you have an encounter with a Grackle, and want to talk about it (Grackles are a favorite), or if you want to know more about Claire Crow, Wildlife Biologist from Zion National Park presenting "Wildlife in Zion" at our next Red Cliffs Audubon General Meeting, on Wednesday, November 10, 7:00 p.m. at the Tonaquint Nature Center, call Marilyn Davis at 435 673-0996. Public is welcome.

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