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Common Grackles Returning

3-30-15 common grackle 083Male Common Grackles have started to arrive on their northeastern breeding grounds (females will arrive in another week or so), having migrated from southern U.S. Common Grackles typically migrate in large flocks containing hundreds of birds, not all grackles. Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, European Starlings and occasionally American Robins can be found alongside Common Grackles in these migrating flocks. In the early 1990’s, magnetic material was found in the heads and necks of Common Grackles, indicating that the geomagnetic field may play a role in their migratory navigation.

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9 responses

  1. Beautiful photo of beautiful birds!

    March 30, 2015 at 8:57 am

  2. nora

    They are so beautiful. Maybe we need to redefine the word “common”-or at least its implication.

    March 30, 2015 at 9:00 am

  3. Fifi Ball

    Love this photo–thanks very much for posting.

    March 30, 2015 at 10:30 am

  4. Bill On The Hill...

    Hi Mary… The eye is drawn into this photo with the birds golden eyes & beautiful iridescent blues on display. There is nothing too dislike about it!
    BF… :~)

    March 30, 2015 at 11:36 am

  5. Beautiful photo! Our blackbirds are much later returning this year. Have you noticed a delay?

    March 30, 2015 at 11:39 am

  6. Deb Hawthorn

    I SO love your blog, Mary, and agree that these grackles are spectacularly beautiful. How interesting that migrating flocks include multiple species.

    March 30, 2015 at 1:13 pm

  7. Kathie Fiveash

    This is unquestionably the most beautiful photo of grackles I have ever see, Thank you! I have seen a few red-winged blackbirds flying over (central Mass) and heard one sing, but have seen no grackles yet, and I’m longing for more blackbirds. I’m with Eliza – they are way late.

    March 30, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    • I agree with previous posters…this photo is incredible! Over the past ten springs, according to my notes, the median date for the return of male red-winged blackbirds to Greenville, Maine (at the southern tip of Moosehead Lake) has been March 21. I have yet to see/hear them so far this spring, nor have I heard of sightings by any of my local friends. The latest date I noted, over the past ten springs, for the red-wings’ return was April 3 of last year (2014), with the grackles making their appearance April 2 2014.

      March 30, 2015 at 4:56 pm

  8. Pat Foss

    I am in southern NH, not too far from seacoast – so far I have not seen any returning birds. Namely Red Wing Blackbirds, Grackles or Starlings. Usually they arrive mid March.

    March 31, 2015 at 11:45 am

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