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Noticing More Grackles in Austin?

A flock of grackles swarms near I-35
Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News
A flock of grackles swarms near I-35

Today’s cold weather has probably prompted the few bird stragglers that didn’t migrate already to hit the skyways fast.  But many local species don’t migrate. If you’ve noticed more grackles around Austin, you’re not the only one.

“People do notice them more in the wintertime because that’s when they are in their large communal roosts,"  Jane Tillman, chair of the Urban Habitat Committee for Travis Audubon, said. "In the summer they spread out and nest, so the males actually have territoriality. But in the winter there’s no breeding going on so everybody gets together in these huge flocks in our H-E-B parking lots."

But just because we may not notice grackles in large flocks year round, doesn’t mean they leave town.

“In Texas no, they’re pretty much permanent residents. Now at the northern edge of their range, which would be up into Nebraska, they might retreat a little bit as the weather gets colder but our ones here in Austin are pretty much here year round,” Tillman said.

In May, KUT's Erika Aguilar reported how people in Austin deal with grackles and their droppings:

Getting rid of the birds is a serious business. The city contracts with the Texas Bird Service, whose employees go around chasing the birds from trees downtown. Whole Foods plays recordings of predator bird screeches to keep the grackles away. And in the past, UT even turned to shot guns to scare them off.

Read that entire story here.