Great-tailed Grackle male on a fence post – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 400, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
Since the freezing temperatures arrived in my neighborhood I have been listening to a five o’clock Great-tailed Grackle cacophony nightly. There is a flock of Great-tailed Grackles that spend the day at a local pond near me and now because of the freezing temps they are roosting in a conifer across the street at night. They fly in about 5 pm and make a racket for about 15 to 20 minutes. I’ve searched Great-tailed Grackle calls on line and the closest I can come to the sounds I hear when the birds come into the roost were recorded by Ted Floyd in Monte Vista.
This recording is close to but not quite what I hear when the grackles arrive at the roost. I guess I need to take my phone outside and record the Great-tailed Grackles as they settle into the roost. This is the first year the grackles are using the roost and I don’t know if that will continue. Winter roosts can contain thousands of grackles in the southern part of their range and I think that sound would be deafening because there are probably only a dozen or so that roost near where I live and they are quite loud.
Great-tailed Grackles are rapidly expanding their range, I have seen them as far north as Montana and their population numbers here in Utah seem to be growing quickly too. In the 1900’s the northern edge of their range was in southern Texas but as agriculture and urban development spread so has the range of these grackles. There is a rather large flock of Great-tailed Grackles in Syracuse, Utah at a McDonald’s there on Antelope Drive. They eat seeds, grains, insects, small mammals, fish, tadpoles, frogs, lizards, snakes and more including edible garbage. I know they like fries because I have watched them eat them.
It is always too dark to photograph them when they fly into the roost for the night but I suspect I will be listening to them every evening for some time to come.
Life is good.