A Season of KinderGrackle

Common Grackles aren’t a common bird at our feeders, so when at least one started making regular appearances around our deck, it caught my attention.

Adult Common Grackle

Since I already make a habit of watching birds out the kitchen window, I couldn’t help but lock on the unique behavior of suet-dunking from one of the Grackles. When a Grackle with a beakful of suet stopped and bent over to take a drink, I immediately assumed she was too thirsty to fly off and would ditch the suet for the water. But no! She swished the end of her beak around in the water with the suet still firmly gripped and then flew off. How curious!

This intriguing dunk n’ go performance would happen many more times. Within a few weeks it all made sense: Grackle kids.

Adult Grackle Dunking Suet in Water

I learned that just a beakful of water helps the suet go down in a most delightful way!

Even though they were the youngest of the bunch, they were by far the biggest and they seemed to inherently know it. They couldn’t have been out of the nest for too many days yet they already knew that their large size gave them the upper hand wing.

Juvenile Grackle Harassing Adult Mourning Dove

A youngin’ tells an adult Mourning Dove to go scram.

I’m tickled that somehow the adult Grackles knew that the Seed n’ Feed would be a fine place to park the kids for an afternoon of grazing. The adults would fly in every now and again to make sure everyone was getting enough to eat. Their appearance was met with instant gaping and wing shimmying; it was funny to see such big babies begging for food. Once the adult was gone, the kids would go back to shuffling around to pick and peck at whatever could be picked and pecked at.

At one point I had been watching one sibling chowing down on suet for quite some time before the other sibling finally noticed. I saw the fracas* coming from a mile away.

Grackle Catches Sibling Eating Suet

It’s going down for real.

I assumed there were two siblings since I would always see two at a time, but weeks into watching their regular sibling shenanigans, I looked out the window on a whim to discover that there were actually three Grackle kids. Knowing how often they have to be fed before they are on their own, and especially since they can’t swing into the local grocery store for food, I have no problem helping to make mom and dads job a little easier.

Adult Common Grackle Feeding Three Juveniles Fledglings

Why bother looking for food when mom or dad is still willing to feed you?

Many days have come and gone now with no Grackle kids, but then all of a sudden they’ll materialize, especially on hot days. I worry about them; I worry about all the little ones that come our way each year. I have some idea of how hard it must be out there.

Grackles are not exactly a delicate or ‘pretty’ bird, lumbering about on those big ol’ canoe feet, but nonetheless they’ve been so much fun to observe. Kind of like a backup mom behind the scenes, I’m glad they know they can always drop in whenever they’d like for a bite to eat.

The Fracas

Juvenile Fledgling Grackle Sibling Rivalry

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