The grackles are courting


©voyager, all rights reserved

She lands first. Then he, about a foot away.

He looks at her sideways and puffs himself up. She looks at him sideways and hops away.

He hops to her again and raises his beak to the sky while glancing at her sideways. She raises her beak too and also glances at him sideways.

They repeat the throat display with lots of sideways glances. Once. Twice. Then she hops away again.

He hop follows her and puffs himself up again. One more throat display and then suddenly they fly away, she first and he hot on her tail.

Enter the next pair (or the same pair…it’s hard to tell) and repeat.

This has been going on all day and I can hardly tear myself away from the window. My back fence is definitely a hot pick-up place for grackles this year. I can hardly wait to see all the babies. (photos taken by spy cam through the bedroom window)


  1. kestrel says

    Huh! Well I could sure be wrong here, but I think those are both males? The females that I’ve seen don’t really have that super glossy color on the neck, but, maybe I’m mistaking a different bird. It would not be the first time I made a mistake… not by a long shot…

    This is so cool that you can get such GORGEOUS shots! Wow! You can practically see them breathing… really amazing.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    I think kestrel is correct about the sexes.
    The photos are stunning. Thank you.

  3. rq says

    Maybe they’re discussing border issues? Either way, that second shot is glorious.

  4. Nightjar says

    The second shot is just perfect, they are such gorgeous birds. I’d be glued to the window too if I had that kind show going on outside!

    About the sexes, I was reading elsewhere that the main differences between male and female are that the female is less iridescent, smaller and has a shorter tail. The weird thing in the pair above is that the bird in the foreground looks smaller, definitely has a shorter tail, but looks more iridescent than the one in the background. Could it just be an unusually glossy female with the light hitting the feathers in the most favorable way possible? Or is the difference in iridescence between males and females too big for that to be possible?

    Sometimes these “less than/more than” rules are not so clear-cut, I have no idea if it’s the case here, but a few weeks ago one of my cousins visited me and was ready to swear my pet cockatiel Piu-Piu was a male because the orange on her face was too intense and big for a female. He knows way more than I do about cockatiels, but I just told him “come with me to see her mother”. Case closed, because the offspring of a wild type female will never include a lutino male.

  5. voyager says

    Thanks kestrel. So now I’m wondering if these are dominance displays by the males? Maybe the females are sitting somewhere else watching all of it? This is the first year I’ve seen this many grackles in my yard and they’re fascinating to watch. The puffing and throat displays happen all day, always with two birds. Since it looks like they’re sticking around I’m going to see what I can find out about them.

    Thank you all for the nice comments.

  6. kestrel says

    @voyager: Yeah… I have seen males do this to one another, the pointing the beak in the air “I’m taller than you!” thing. Also the puffing and the stomping around. When I’ve seen a male displaying for a female, she typically shows no *overt* interest, but continues to feed, bathe or whatever she was doing, looking for all the world as though she were completely ignoring him. Where I live, anyway, the females are quite drab compared to the males. I still can’t get over how close you must have been, or how awesome of a lens you must have; I have them around me all day but can not get this close of a shot, not even!!

  7. voyager says

    Thank you kestrel. I shot those photos from inside my back door. It’s quite close to the fence, but if I’m quiet and move very slowly the birds eventually forget I’m there.

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