Sunday, June 21, 2015

Great-tailed Grackle at San Luis Rey River Mouth

Great-tailed Grackles were first discovered visiting California in 1964. Of course, now, they are widespread and common in southern California around lake shores and river bottoms, from the Colorado River to the Pacific Ocean. Even as recently as 1990, they were more restricted to desert ponds and streams: Colorado River Valley, Salton Sea, Death Valley (California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System, S. Granholm).

Great-tailed Grackle
Great-tailed Grackle. Oceanside, California. May 24, 2015. Greg Gillson.
Their calls are varied and loud, interspersing musical whistles and squeaks. The words raucous ("disturbingly harsh and loud noise") and cacophonous ("a harsh discordant mixture of sounds") are often used to describe this bird's calls.

Great-tailed Grackle

These birds are in the blackbird and oriole family (not the crow and jay family). Males of all grackles have a large wedge-shaped tail that they hold in a folded 'V' shape, rather than flat as other blackbirds.

Sexually dimorphic, males are much larger and glossier bluish-black than the grayer females, such as the female below.

Great-tailed Grackle

Because they are loud and bold, they are considered pests in many areas, such as campgrounds where they raid garbage cans and steal food from picnic tables (not to mention waking campers at  God-awful early morning hours... oops, I did mention it after all).

Thank goodness for the crop feature in Photoshop Elements. See the original photo below of the introductory photo above! I was able to remove the Barq's root beer can and some other shoreline trash.

Photoshop Elements

See a previous post where I kept the garbage in the photo with the birds.