by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Troubadours From Mexico"

Great-tailed Grackle

great tailed grackle
        When we lived in Springdale, near Zion, we periodically made trips to lower elevations like Mesquite, Nevada. Mesquite at that time was a small, sleepy town that got hot enough to fry pancakes on the sidewalk in summer and close enough to the Virgin River to raise crops year round. There was a large dairy on the west end of town which attracted hundreds of crows and a swamp not far from the dairy full of waterfowl and raptors. This was the era of time when the Great-tailed Grackles began moving north from Mexico. It was here in Mesquite that we became acquainted with the Grackles. Since meeting them, I have always loved the elegance, songs, and resourcefulness of the Great-tailed Grackles.

        About 20 years ago we found that we didn’t have to go to Mesquite to see Grackles, because they had found their way to the St. George area. The Grackles loved the movie theater on Main Street with their open dumpsters and theater popcorn. Soon the word spread that this town was a good place for food, and more and more Great-tails came. Parking lots deemed a good place for them to hang out during the day. A mature lookout was placed here and there, ready to spread the cry of ‘come and get it’ each time a morsel of food was dropped by some unbeknownst. Then there were the smashed insects on the fronts of all those parked cars. That was a real bonus!

        Such beautiful birds with great songs to sing. Great-tailed Grackles soon became a favorite of shoppers. I am one of those people . I try to bring treats each time I visit an area where Grackles hang out. Treats like whole wheat bread, a few nuts, and they love it. Sometimes I think they recognize my vehicle and fly to where I park expecting to be fed. The intelligence of these beautiful, stately birds who are willing to ‘sing for their supper’ amazes me.

        The next time you go to your local super market and you see Great-tailed Grackles in the parking lot, spare them a crust of bread or two. Maybe, they will start to recognize your car also.

        Brenda Rusnell is the artist this week. If you have questions about birds or the monthly meetings and field trips of the Red Cliffs Audubon, call 435 673-0996. The public is welcome.

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