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Bird of the Week: Common Grackle
This beautiful goth bird lives at the exact intersection of ordinary and extraordinary.
Happy Friday, friends. If you’re reading this on a day that isn’t Friday, shhhhhh: consider this an invitation to settle into a TGIF mindset. It’s the end of the week, we made it. And boy, what a week it’s been. As you may have heard, we here at Discourse Blog are having quite the time when it comes to the extremely-not-over COVID pandemic, and I am one of the fallen soldiers. It’s my first go-around with this thing and man, it sucks! But I’ve maintained my insistence on doing Bird of the Week despite my infected state because what better distraction during this awful time than our beloved birds?
This week’s entry was carefully chosen in my fog-brained state for being excellent enough that I don’t have to work that hard to sell it, but not so excellent that I can’t rise to the occasion in honoring it. Is that a cop-out? I hope not, and I don’t think you’ll think so once you set your sights on our guest of honor. Allow me to introduce you to the absolutely stunning, but not necessarily jaw-dropping Common Grackle.
Just look at those feathers!!! Try not to get lost in them!
You know what? I was wrong, this bird is freaking breathtaking. The common grackle is a blackbird for all intents and purposes, and we love those dudes around here, but they’re kind of a remix on the form. (Writer’s note: apparently starlings and crows are black birds, but they’re not actually blackbirds, but I’m pretending like they are here. Sorry! Please don’t make me investigate or explain this further, I’m ILL!) Grackles are a bit stretched out from a typical blackbird, with a leaner figure, longer tail and bill, yellow eyes—and the craziest iridescent plumage you’ve ever seen. It’s an oil slick in animal form!
If you live in North America and have a bird feeder, it’s entirely possible that you’ve seen a grackle or 10 hanging around your digs and trying to get some of that sweet seed. They also eat corn (to a problematic degree) and other crops, and are formidable foragers. You’re most likely to spot them on the ground poking around for food or in treetops, bird houses, or previously-inhabited nests.
Common grackles are the communal type, hanging out in groups as large as 100 birds. Both parents handle the chick-rearing and in a rare twist, both male and female grackles have the distinctive feather coloring—the males just have a more pronounced version.
There are a few equally gorgeous subspecies of grackles. Oh, and they’re also kind of assholes… and pretty annoying when they want to be. Hey, that’s their right, they have to live on this planet with us! (But also, tell us your grackle stories if you have ‘em!)
Perhaps the most exciting thing about grackles is that they might have a superpower?? Some studies have suggested that grackles—as well as a few other species—seem to be uniquely attuned to Earth’s magnetic field, which helps them with navigation and migration. Very cool. They also take ant baths, which is more gross than cool, but impressive and enterprising nonetheless.
Also, I might have a fever, but the common grackle has led me to a new favorite YouTube channel. Sit back, relax, and enjoy Jo Alwood. I have a feeling we’ll be returning to this well in the future!
Incredible. Okay, that’s it for now. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled, clear-headed, and full-throated editions of Bird of the Week soon! In the meantime, do you have a common or UNCOMMON bird that you’d like to see featured on Bird of the Week? Tell us about it! Reach out at email@example.com.