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Posts Tagged ‘great-tailed grackles’

 “Accept that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.” – David Brent

 

Female great-tailed grackle at Surfside -- Photo by Pat Bean

 

 

Chasing Birds

The photo on the left, taken this week at the Surfside Jetty where my son, Lewis, and I began a day of birding, shows the female great-tailed grackle that was pestering my son, Lewis, for a bite of his breakfast taco. Her male comrade was a bit more standoffish.

Great-tailed grackles are one of the birds that make every birder’s list if they live anywhere in Texas. The smaller common grackle is a bit more choosy about where it lives in the state, and the third North American grackle, the boat-tailed, even choosier. It can only be found along the shores of Texas’ Gulf Coast, and then mostly only on the more northern end. Florida is the boat-tail’s favorite habitat.

On this day of chasing down birds, the great-tailed grackle was the only one of the three species Lewis and I saw, although on most bird outings in the area we get the common, too, and occasionally even a boat-tailed grackle.

 

Male great-tailed grackle. Note the bright yellow eye.

It’s easy to tell the common and the great-tailed apart simply by size. The common is a 12-inch bird and the great-tailed a 15-18-inch bird, the male being the larger of the sexes.

The boat-tailed, meanwhile, is close in size to the great-tailed but with a very round head. compared to a very-flat head for the great-tailed. You can also easily tell the two apart if the boat-tailed is vocal – and it usually is. Its voice is more coarse and gravelly than those of the other two grackles. .

The females of all three species are varying shades of brown.

Grackles, which often roam about in large flocks, are considered nuisance birds by some. And while that might not be far off the mark, since they prefer harvesting a farmer’s crops more than living off uncultivated land, I still enjoying watching them.

Perhaps it’s because I admire their attitude, such as the one displayed by the female this day that wasn’t going to be intimidated out of any Taco droppings by we mere humans. Or perhaps it’s because I find the iridescent purple and green sheen on the males’ feathers a work of art.

Or perhaps it’s simply because all birds fascinate me.

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 One does not meet oneself until one catches the reflection from an eye other than human.” Loren Eiseley (Quote on Mark B Bartosik’s profile page at http://www.pbase.com/mbb/profile )

Take that, and that, and that -- Photo by Mark B Bartosik

Travels With Maggie

If I were on the road, instead of waiting around for my RV to get ready for the road, I’d probably be walking around somewhere with a pair of binoculars looking for birds. Instead I’m perusing them from my armchair via the internet.

I’m subscribed to two birding chat groups: Birdtalk and Texbirds. The first discusses birds seen in Utah, where I lived for 25 years, and the second is about bird sightings in Texas, where I was born and now spend my winters.

While I usually just quickly scan and delete most of the many messages I receive from these chatty birders, one Texbird name always slows me down: Mark B Bartosik.

The entanglement continues in flight. -- Photo by Mark B Bartosik

While he downplays his talent, I count him as about the best bird photographer around. This is especially notable because Mark’s focus is so often simply on the common birds anyone of us can easily find.

A recent example are the photos he took of some male great-tailed grackles engaged in a full contact battle, probably fought over some yellow-eyed chick. He caught the magnificence of a bird species that many people consider pests.

I was absolute spellbound by the life and attitudes of these birds that Mark captured with his camera in a three-minute period. I think you will be too.

If you want to prove me right or wrong, check them out at http://tinyurl.com/69crrr6 The two photos I’ve posted here are only a sample.

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  “A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.” — Nernard Meltzer

Great-tailed grackles entertain me while I eat my eggs. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

   My long-time Utah friend, Kim, cooks the best eggs I’ve ever tasted. Nothing fancy, just plain eggs cooked in butter. Her whites are solid and firm while her yolks are left soft enough to spread out over the plate when broken. The image of these beautiful eggs on a plate beside a piece of buttered toast that I would use to sop up the last drop of golden goodness flickered through my head during my walk with Maggie.

I think the golden sunrise I had just viewed made me think of the gooey roundness of Kim’s perfectly cooked eggs. Or it could be I was just hungry, I decided when the image stayed with me.

Now while I consider myself a good cook – as do my grandkids who urge me to cook for them when I visit – eggs have always been my nemesis. I either undercook the whites or overcook the yolks. I think it has something to do with my lack of patience. Even so, I knew I wanted eggs before I got back on the road for the 200-plus miles I needed to drive today.

I settled for my version of a quick egg breakfast for the road without leaving a single dish to wash up after the meal. I call it my King/Donald/Jack RV Breakfast.

In a small sturdy paper bowl, I break three eggs and lightly scramble. Two are adequate unless you plan to share with a doe-eyed black cocker spaniel whom you know is going to drool as she watches you eat. To this I add two sliced cooked link sausages and a tiny bit of seasoned salt with garlic.

I pop the bowl in the microwave for one minute – covered with a second paper bowl that I use afterward to hold Maggie’s portion. In the meantime I pop two slices of whole grain bread into my toaster. When the minute is up, I take the bowl out of the microwave, stir it up (using a plastic throw away spoon) and add a bit of grated cheese and pop it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds, or until done to preference. I like my scrambled eggs soft and moist not dry.

Maggie waiting for the last bite -- Photo by Pat Bean

While this cooks, I butter my toast and put away the toaster. After giving Maggie her generous portion of the egg mixture, I laddle the rest onto the bread and sit at my table and stare out at the birds while I eat. Maggie always finishes first and usually gets the last bite of mine.
The dirty bowls and plastic silverware go into the trash and once again I find myself driving down the road. Almost before I get out of the RV park, Maggie is snoozing in her co-pilot seat beside me. We are both contented travelers.

                                                     Copyrighted by Pat Bean 

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