Common Grackles

September 23rd 2017. RBG Arboretum, Hamilton, ON. A blanket of hot weather has rolled over us and promises to hang around for a few days yet. Heat really puts the damper on all bird activity so my companion and I had low expectations of today’s count around one of our defined routes.

Saving the day though were uncountable numbers of Common Grackles pacing around and feeding across a wide-open expanse of short grass. By wide and open I’m referring to an expanse, perhaps five or ten acres, of clear, tree-dotted parkland, and the grackles were thick on the ground. We approached slowly hoping for a closer look suspecting that the group included some Red-winged Blackbirds and hoping that maybe, with luck, a few Rusty Blackbirds too, but no, it was all grackles.

Common Grackle

They were quite a spectacle and counting them was impossible. They were flighty anyway and kept moving, marching and leap-frogging, group over group as if they were anticipating a call any moment to take off and leave for good; a bit like waiting for your flight to be announced. Enough of a spectacle to be Birds of the Day, especially in light of the rest of a hot day’s birding.

The woods and skies were noisy with migrating Blue Jays, but otherwise we were recording species numbers in ones and twos. One White-breasted Nuthatch, one Great Blue Heron (see artsy photo below), two Hairy Woodpeckers and so on. An hour later sticky and weary it really was time to call it quits.

Great Blue Heron