These guys don’t visit me a the feeders that often, but I did enjoy watching them try to figure out how to get the suet off the tree. (Ah, back when I had a tree….) They aren’t as agile as the other birds. They would fly up and poke at it, but not try to grab a hold of the tree like other birds either. Eventually, one knocked a pretty large chunk off and the other three flew after the one with the bounty.
These guys are related to the Blackbird and Oriole. They have rich, loud calls that clearly don’t fall into the songbird category.
The common grackle are very good foragers, sometimes following plows to search the freshly turned soil for food. This is why the ‘Scarecrow’ should really be called the Scaregrackle, as they do a whole lot more damage to corn fields than Crows do. In their never ending search for food, they will help Mr. Turtle out by eating leaches off his legs and steal food from other birds. They also have a hard, saw-like part of their beak that helps them open acorns and other hard nuts like chestnuts and walnuts.
Grackles also enjoy anting in which they hover over an anthill and allow ants to crawl about their bodies. The ants secrete formic acid or a repugnant oily liquid is secreted from anal glands, which is thought to reduce bothersome parasites. They have also been known to use other substances on their feathers; lemons and limes, marigold blossoms (pyrethrum), chokecherries and walnut juice.
© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl