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Posts Tagged ‘grackle’

A small flock of large black-colored birds was noisily moving about the marsh at Huntley Meadows Park one morning last weekend and if I were better at identifying bird calls, I probably would have know what kind of birds they were—I considered the possibility that they might be crows or Red-winged Blackbirds or starlings or grackles. When I got closer and the sunlight illuminated their bodies, I realized that they were probably Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula), because of the way that their black color became iridescent, with colorful highlights.

I spent quite a while watching the grackles as they energetically pecked about, presumably looking for morsels of food. Their heads were pointed downwards most of the time, so it was a little tough to get good shots of them.

Here are a couple of my favorite shots that help show both the beauty and the personality of a grackle.

 

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Yesterday the fields and forests of Huntley Meadows Park were alive with the sound of birds, lot of birds. I didn’t get a close enough look to identify the black birds, but they seem to be Rusty Blackbirds or Grackles. As they foraged, they moved from one spot to another in a great cloud of birds, all flying at the same time.

I tried to capture images of the birds with different backgrounds and especially like the first one below, which reminds me of some pf Escher’s pen-and-ink drawings of birds.

birds in flight

birds in flight

birds in flight

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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There were lots of Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) foraging Friday at Huntley Meadows Park and I was thrilled when one of the stood still for a moment and I was able to snap off this shot. At times grackles appear to be almost pure black, but when the light is right, they shimmer with shades of green and pink.

Common Grackle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Early yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park this Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) seemed to be sending me a definite “Don’t mess with me” message. Fortunately the grackle eventually loosened up a bit and I was able to capture some additional images in a mini portrait session.

I captured these images around 6:30 on a misty, overcast morning. There was some light, but not a whole lot, so I was forced to set my ISO relatively high at ISO 1600. I was shooting in aperture priority mode and I didn’t realize until later that the shutter speeds for these shots was between 1/15 and 1/30 of a second. Considering that I was shooting with my lens zoomed out to 600mm, it’s surprising that these shots are not completely blurry (though they are a bit grainy). I am convinced that the built-in image stabilization of the lens really helps in situations like this.

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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We had some sunny weather this past weekend and temperatures soared to the upper 40’s (about 8-9 degrees C). As I was walking through my local marshland park, I heard an approaching loud noise, and before I knew it the sky was full of blackbirds. I turned my camera skyward and snapped off a few shot.

From the photos, I can’t identify all of the types of birds, but there seems to be a mixture of Red-winged Blackbirds and grackles and maybe a few others. What I find most fascinating, though, is the variety of wing positions, sizes, and shapes that you can see. Unlike the geese that I see flying in beautiful V-shaped formations, these blackbirds seem to be utterly lacking in organization as they move from place to place.

blackbirds_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The tree is ablaze with vibrant fall colors and in the middle of it sits a dull black bird, a Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula), whose only touch of color is his yellow eyes. The juxtaposition of the contrasting elements, I believe, makes the image more interesting than either of them would have been separately.

Common Grackle in a tree

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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There was a lot of bird activity early yesterday morning as I walked through the cattail-filled marshy area of Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia. Many of the birds were in groups, it seemed, including large flocks of noisy black birds that several  of my fellow bloggers have helped me identify as grackles.

Most of the birds seemed to be be passing through and perched high in trees or landed too far away for me to capture them individually with my modest telephoto zoom. (Another photographer I saw had a massive 600mm telephoto lens with a 1.4x teleconverter attached and seemed to have greater success.)

However, I was able to take this photo of bird on a cattail stalk and amazingly I can identify it—it’s a male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus).  I realize that the Red-winged Blackbird is probably one of the easiest birds to identify (along with the robin, bluejay, and cardinal), but I have had so many problems recently identifying the birds in my photos that it is satisfying to be able get one right.

There were flocks of birders present too, equipped with telescopes and binoculars, and some of them were almost as loud as the grackles. I heard lots of interesting debates, like whether a large bird soaring in the distance was a red-shouldered hawk or a redtail hawk (and I had no idea previously that there was a bird called a Coopers hawk). Most of the bird people were so intense that I didn’t dare to attempt to engage them in conversation.  One gentlemen, however, talked with me at length, periodically referring to a tattered guide that he had with him (it was a Peterson’s guide to birds east of the Rockies and he recommended it for a beginner like me). I think that I may have to break down and buy a little guide like that to start to learn more about birds.

For now, I’m happy that I can identify a Red-winged Blackbird most of the time, especially a male one!

Red-winged Blackbird on a cattail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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