Thursday, July 11, 2013


Image courtesy of Vlado,
Still new to Houston, I pulled into a parking lot one evening at dusk. 

As I got out of my car, I realized there were hundreds, maybe a thousand, raucous birds in two nearby trees. They were LOUD, making weird mechanical sounds, like the creaks and groans my car makes when its struts are broken or like the metal coils of an old mattress or like the squeaky hinges of old doors.

Plus, their poop was accumulating, like snow, on the unfortunate cars beneath them.

I high-tailed it into the nearby Barnes & Noble.

“What the hell are those?!” I asked a clerk.

“I dunno,” he answered. Dimwit.

They were grackles. And they are all over Houston.

A cool website, 10,000 Birds, explains what they are and also introduced me to this poem by Ogden Nash:

The Grackle

The grackle’s voice is less than mellow,
His heart is black, his eye is yellow,
He bullies more attractive birds
With hoodlum deeds and vulgar words,
And should a human interfere,
Attacks the human in the rear.
I cannot help but deem the grackle
An ornithological debacle.

The comments on 10,000 Birds told of grackles attacking other birds at people’s feeders, particularly sparrows, and leaving the headless bodies strewn all over the yard. They will also clean their nests by carrying their babies’ poop in their beaks to drop in your pool. Charming.

Meanwhile, local news stories about people being dive-bombed by these birds – and others about how people try to get rid of them (or, rather, shoo them toward someone else), with artillery sounds and laser lights, falcons and hawks, like this one  and this one  and this one  – are just a Google search away.

Note to self: never park under a grackle tree.


  1. Yes!! I was a bird lover until I met the grackle.

  2. Scary birds. Its weird when they hop up on a table and look at you like they are thinking about how you might taste.

  3. This is one time when I'm okay with the Texas boast of the biggest and the most.