Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Grackle Invasion

Remember the scene of black birds flying in Alfred Hitchcock's movie THE BIRDS?  Picture that happening in your back yard.  The other day there was a grackle migration in my yard.  The grackle is a member of the same family as the blackbird, with a shiny green or purple sheen on their head and yellow eyes.  According to Animal Science, they can be found anywhere in the US except the West Coast.  
Due to a welcome, but short lived cool front, the temperature dropped and apparently the grackles decided it was time to migrate south for the winter.  They like to travel in groups, and colonies of grackles can be anywhere from 10 to 100 pairs. 
The head count of hungry travelers on the ground and in the apple tree was close to 150 birds.  Here they are eating the berries off a Russian Olive in my neighbors yard.  They are very noisy and will eat just about anything.  On a positive note, they eat lots of insects, including grubs, ants, beetles and caterpillars.  Grackles are very aggressive towards other birds.  As long as we were outside on guard, we were able to thwart their subsquent returns; all in all it was about a three hour ordeal.
In order to save the majority of the apple crop, in case they came back while we weren't home, my husband brought out the ladder and started picking.  Now I have 3- 5 gallon buckets of apples to process.  I think I might need another freezer.

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