Common Grackle Migration

Sometimes you are in just the right spot! I woke up early Friday morning and headed to Greenwich Point Park to photograph the sunrise and whatever birds I could locate. Unfortunately, when I arrived I realized I had forgotten to check the tide table……tide was out! If that wasn’t bad enough, the wind along the shore was strong, probably 15-20 mph gusts, strike two!
Given the weather conditions and the nondescript sunrise, I headed home. I had planned on doing some work at the computer this weekend so I got down to business. I didn’t give it much thought at the time, but my wife informed me that she had seen thousands of crows fly over the house on Thursday, stop in the yard briefly and move on. I surmised that these were Common Grackles. Hoping that they would return today, I left my camera mounted on the tripod in the garage. Sure enough, off in the distance, I could see the black cloud coming our way.

Common Grackles
Common Grackle Portrait

I have always had a hard time photographing Grackles. They tend to be very skittish birds. In order to make these images, I used the garage as a blind. I had fantastic light which helped to show off the iridescense of the species feathers, something I really like about Grackles.

Common Grackle Eyeing a Snack
Common Grackle Closeup

I suspect that this flock of Grackles was not the one my wife saw. She claims there were thousands. I only counted hundreds. Given that Luke Tiller from Under Clear Skies, reported 44,000 Common Grackles in Greenwich on Thursday (Greenwich is south west from here), I think what I witnessed on Friday was a different flock.

As I have said before, you never really know what you are going to find in your own backyard. The biology/behavior I was able to witness on Friday was awesome. As many of you know, I have a resident family of Red Tailed Hawks living in the woods that surround my home. The Grackles spent the day avoiding the Red Tailed Hawks or I am sure they would have spent more time here. I was able to witness a great piece of hunting as well on Thursday. One of two Hawks circled above the flock of Grackles while the other flew threw the flock and chased and ultimately captured one of the Grackles. I only wish I had a video camera on the action.

Sparring Common Grackles

The result of spending the day observing the Grackles was I didn’t get much computer work done.

Images Captured with Nikon D700, 600mm f/4 and TCe-1.4 II on Lexar Digital Film.