Date: 5/7/20 6:08 am
From: John Connors (via carolinabirds Mailing List) <carolinabirds...>
Subject: Re: what's the deal with Common Grackles??
Hi John.
I can't speak for the Carteret County Common Grackles but here in Raleigh
they frequently forage in wetlands during nesting season taking all sorts
of small protein meals from there back to their nestlings. I remember once,
when I worked at a nature park, I had a bucket full of tadpoles, dragonfly
nymphs and gambusia for use with a 5th grade class. I met the students at
their bus and when we walked back to the pond shore a few grackles flew
from the bucket. They had eaten every critter. A friend who was fishing at
the Falls Lake dam said he watched grackles catching small fish and
tadpoles from pools among the rocks at that site.

But in urban and suburban Raleigh Common Grackle colonies are mostly in
tall, thick hedge rows, quite often in Photinia. There is a colony
adjoining the parking lot at the Hillsborough Street YMCA, and another in
the medium of Capital Boulevard about 1 mile north of downtown, and another
in the hedges of the Governor's mansion. There always seem to be members of
the colony around to repel Fish Crows and other nest predators while much
of the colony forages at some distant wetland. It would be nice to track
where these birds forage- that would answer some of your questions.

Of course, I haven't done a formal study, but this is my best guess of what
I see around here.

On Thu, May 7, 2020 at 8:26 AM John Fussell <jofuss...> wrote:

> Throughout spring and early summer, Common Grackles are common in the
> upland
> maritime forest and interlying swales of swamp forest and shrub swamps in
> the Theodore Roosevelt Natural Area (Bogue Banks, Carteret County). It
> seems that some are always within hearing or sight. And, usually when I
> pish to bring some in closer, often 50 or more will almost immediately
> move
> in to protest loudly.
> I never see any nests. I confess that I haven't looked real hard for
> them,
> but I do look some, and in many of these habitat structures I would think
> that any nests would be easy to spot.
> Are there typically non-breeding bands of Common Grackles that habitually
> wander around without nesting? What's the deal here? Has anyone else
> experienced this phenomenon? Does anyone have any answers?
> I might add that this is something I've noticed every spring and early
> summer that I've spent time in this park.
> I will add that this same situation exists with Red-winged Blackbirds, but
> to a much lesser extent.
> John Fussell
> Morehead City, NC

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