Posted in Birding, Passeriformes, Starlings

European Starling

We had finished our journey at the duck pond and we were freezing our hands off. We shivered our way into the car. Beaker especially was having difficulties. As we stopped at a light near CVS Pharmacy, he was the first to say quite quickly, “Well let’s go home! Enough birds and…”

“Hey look,” I said, “European Starlings.”

Everyone looked around. “Where?”

“Over there on the power lines near CVS”

“I don’t think we should stop for ugly black birds,” Beaker said. Beaker usually has a dislike for black, bald or boring birds.

“But Beaker,” I said, “European Starlings are very colorful and sparkly in the sunlight.”

“Yes, but…”

“And they were introduced here because of their occurrence in Shakespeare .”

“Um… Yes.”

“And it’s a new bird.”

“Oh, okay,” he said. Beaker pulled into the CVS Pharmacy parking lot and parked.

Hawkeye shook her head. “You crazy man.” She couldn’t believe we were going out in the cold to get a closer look at ‘ugly birds’.

Beaker and I got out and Beaker started trying to get pictures. A scowl began to form on his face. “What’s the matter, Beaker? This cold bothering you?”

Back-lit Starlings
Back-lit Starlings

“No.” He answered. “There’s too much back-light.”

I thought about that for a while. “If we went into the road there would be no back-light.”

“Yes,” Beaker said, “but that would be the last picture we would take!”

Okay, so we didn’t get he best pictures, but it was still cool to see the Shakespeare bird.

Posted in Birding, Grackles, Passeriformes

Great-tailed Grackle

From the window on the second floor we searched the rooftops and telephone poles behind our home once more. “Whoa! What was that?” I said loudly.

Mimic briefly let his eyes leave his notes. “What? Where?”

“I don’t know. I saw something black fly by. – Whoa, there’s another one!”

“Black?” asked Mimic. He answered his own question, jotting his words as he spoke. “Probably a Great-tailed Grackle. They’re not really black though.”

“Oh. Well they have a great tail though, right?” I asked jokingly.

He dismissed my question and answered his. “Yes, that’s what they were. See over there. They’re on that telephone line above that house.”

“Yes, I see them. Have you ever seen a ‘not so great’ tailed grackle?”


“No.” My joke fell flat. “But some male grackles lose part of their tail when fighting other males.” He continued. “See there’s a female next to him, she’s a little smaller and browner.”

The birds had come closer. With my telephoto lens in hand, I zoomed in. The morning sky was a bluish grey. You could almost see the air outside; still, cold and wet. I framed my shot, hoping for a Kodak moment.

Click – I took the shot. Click – I took another.

The first bird of the year to be photographed was none other than the Great-tailed Grackle. The birds that had resembled pepper flakes, just moments ago while much further away, had now been clearly identified, captured on camera and counted.