The grackles are coming, the grackles are coming! They are not spreading as quickly as the Eurasian Collared-Dove, but they are moving west and north. Once confined largely to the desert southwest, this species is found across the southern Great Plains and along much of the length of California. They are not afraid of modest heights as they are now common around Las Vegas which is at about 2200 feet elevation, higher than the Rogue Valley. Also, they’ve been regular if uncommon in Harney County, Oregon, which is above 4000 feet in most parts.
Here are my first photos from Emigrant Lake where the Kreismans got the first photos last month (on an earlier blog here).
This bird without the glossy black plumage is a female GT Grackle. These birds are close relatives of other blackbirds and cousins of the meadowlark and orioles. This is the Icterid family, found only in the Western Hemisphere. Europe’s Blackbird is a thrush, related to our Robin and bluebirds.
The adaptable, omnivorous grackle is probably now breeding here in Jackson County. The ranchland and orchards will be ideal habitat and this bird does well in towns and suburbs as well. If they can survive Vegas, they will do very well here.
Christmas Count and Backyard Bird Count data show they are now established in the Redding area about 100 miles south of the Oregon border. In 2005 Christmas Counts across California/Nevada/Oregon found less than 4000 GT Grackles in 59 circles. By 2011 that increased to over 5800 birds in 68 count circles in those three states.
Three Caspian Terns and a Great Egret at the south end of Emigrant Lake.