The days approach 90 degrees even here at 7000 feet; I’m harvesting tomatoes and peppers and wishing I started my raised beds earlier. Next year I will have a decent garden.
I mean it too.
All the fledglings are growing up, but still I see the occasional little beggar getting fed by what must be a nearly exhausted parent.
Here are Evening Grosbeaks…looks like the male helps raise the little ones. I wonder what happened to the little guy’s head. Could one of those dreaded Cowbirds, or some big icterid attacked the nest and nearly got the nestling? This little fluffy-head is still pretty young; perhaps he’ll turn-out okay. Obviously he’s being well-cared for.
There are many Black-headed Grosbeaks still here, too. I watch the little streak-headed youngsters beg for food right on the flat-feeder full of seeds. Parents patiently show them over and over how it is one opens a seed...insisting, for the most part, that they give it a try themselves. What good parents. One youngster I saw actually fluttered wings and gaped for a Hairy Woodpecker that came to the suet block. For a minute I thought the woodpecker was going to feed it; but I think that peck was a repremand...the youngster jumped back and quit begging. Too funny.
The Bullock’s Orioles are still here, though I mostly see the females these days. What I am seeing suddenly…are lots and lots of Common Grackles and what I imagine are blackbirds and starlings. I have to admit I begrudge them a single sunflower-seed and so have not really spent time watching the big bullies. The Grosbeaks, the Goldfinches and the Siskins all eat together peaceably…but when those blasted Grackles show up, the other birds bolt. I’ve watched them a bit and wonder too; just how many young birds these birds raise at once? Gads, there are bunches of scruffy juveniles which are still getting real feathers in the flock. They're big birds with yellow eyes, but they don't have their shine-on. Are these things like chickens; do they lay eight or ten eggs in a clutch? I’ll have to do some research…and report back. It seems the flocks are growing exponentially; and mixed with Red-winged Blackbirds and gawdknowswhatelse.
Okay, here is what I discovered: The BNS says:
“The Common Grackle is now among the most significant agricultural pest species in North America, causing millions of dollars in damage to sprouting corn. It has also earned a reputation for eating other birds’ eggs and nestlings, and it occasionally kills and consumes adult birds.”
About Fall Migration, the BNS goes on to say: “Fall migration can begin in Aug–Sep, but typically peaks late Oct–early Nov and is mostly completed by early Dec. … Fall migratory pathways are oriented primarily toward Gulf of Mexico. Severe winter weather may force birds farther south.” So…they’re just starting and it's gonna get worse through late fall. [sigh] I'd best get more of that safflower seed; they don't like that stuff much.
The site goes on to say these thugs migrate diurnally, usually in mixed-species flocks with Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus), European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), Brown-headed Cowbirds, and less frequently, Euphagus blackbirds and American Robins (Turdus migratorius). Reeaaally. My respect for our Robins has just fallen a bit. Whoda thought. All I can say is I’m glad I don’t live near corn, rice or sunflower seed farms, where the birds can congregate by the millions. It is especially adapted to opening acrons, however. Apparently they are pretty good at fishing, too. (ZOTTOLI)
And finally, clutch size: one to seven eggs and attempted twice a season. Well, we had an easy winter, seems to me; perhaps that’s why we gots so many of these big guys.
The word grackle is derived from the Latin word graculus, which means "to cough" …that would be their 'song'.