Grackles embrace the idea of casual sex, and hook ups tend to be fleeting. The male has no part in feeding the rambunctious young but defends his chicks with zeal. The female feeds the hatchlings and later teaches them to find food on their own. She brings her gaping babies plant materials such as berries and grains, assorted insects and small lizards, small fish and aquatic invertebrates as well as the eggs and young of other birds.
The territory claimed by Great-tailed grackles has extended from Central American through Mexico and into the Southwest. The species thrives in habitats created with irrigation and urbanization. Grackles are now widespread in the desert where they find water in suburban neighborhoods, city parks and school yards as well as ponds and irrigated agricultural fields.
A noisy flock of grackles dominates the tall shrubby growth of my neighbor’s ficus trees. One spring morning a dramatic confrontation breaks out between a trio of mockingbirds and three female grackles. The mockers swoop and dive at the heckling grackles who threaten their nest. It’s an uproar.
For those who feel annoyed at the omnipresence of these aggressive birds, ponder the words of biologist E.O. Wilson, “When we observe and interact with other animals we become aware of similarities. . . Every creature has its own unrepeatable life journey, each day of which is full of opportunities and risks.”