Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cranes Roost and the Boat Tailed Grackle...

Next in my list of birds from uptown Altamonte. The Brown Headed Cowbird. Or so I thought...

Update and Edit to this post:
Thanks to my faithful and gracious readers I have a correct ID on this bird as well as a first for me. Friends, I submit to you the Boat-Tailed Grackle. The birds are the same but the information has been changed to the correct bird. So please take the time to see if you can learn something new about the Boat-Tailed Grackle as I certainly learned. If you are reading this post after the edit, I misidentified this bird as a Brown-Headed Cowbird.

Did you know:
A large, long-tailed blackbird, the Boat-tailed Grackle is found exclusively along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States. The noisy, iridescent, purple-black male is hard to miss when it displays on power lines and telephone poles. The smaller brown female is much less conspicuous, and might even be mistaken for a different species. (sorry, I had to hightlight that part!)

Sex Differences
Male iridescent black. Female dull brown and significantly smaller.

Eye color in the Boat-tailed Grackle varies from region to region. Grackles along the Atlantic coast north of Florida have straw-colored eyes. Florida birds have dark eyes. Grackles west of Florida to eastern Louisiana have light eyes, but those further west have dark ones.

Fledglings that fall into the water can swim well for short distances, using their wings as paddles.
The Boat-tailed Grackle has an odd mating system: harem defense polygyny. Females cluster their nests, and the males compete to defend the entire colony and mate there. The most dominant male gets most of the copulations in a system similar to that used by many deer. But all is not as simple as it seems. Although the dominant male may get up to 87% of the copulations at a colony, DNA fingerprinting shows that he actually sires only about 25% of the young in the colony. Most of the young are fathered by noncolony males away from the colonies.

Did you know brought to you by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Thanks for stopping by and please leave a comment. Also a big thank you to all of the birders out there that help me all the time to learn more and more about the birding world!



Shellmo said...

Craig - I like seeing all of them lined up on the wire like that! And thanks for the info on the cowbird!

Leedra said...

Look at the bill, I think it is a Boat Tailed Grackle. Possibly not, but that bill looks too long and pointed for the Brown Headed Cowbird. Check mine out http://photographybyleedra.blogspot.com/2008/11/rusty-blackbird.html
and see what you think. If the link does not work, go to the left sidebar for Boat Tailed Grackle.

dAwN said...

Hi Craig,
Sorry about bringing the cold! I love it cooler as you know!
I have to agree with Leedra...I think you have Boat Tailed Grackles here...Much longer bill than the brown headed cowbird..
what ya thinK?

Tina said...

I don't think I've even seen a boat-tailed grackle..but like shelley, love the pic of them all lined up on the wire!! great shot

Craig Glenn said...

Well Howdy do... I just learned me a new bird! Thank you Leedra and all. It is a Boat-Tailed Grackle! I never knew there was such a thing. It make take me a few days but I will get the post updated.

Yay Boat-Tailed Grackle! :)


Leedra said...

Add another bird to your lifer list. Always fun. This one was new for me this year, I was excited! I like you had never even heard of it.

Bird Girl said...

Shot #2 of that Cowbird is really cool! I love the city background - the whole picture looks so three dimensional!

Annie said...

That is all very interesting...and quite a funny name for a bird..!!

We have cuckoos here that do that...nest in other birds nests..


ps I got a lovely shot of a young bird, (possibly a magpie or butcher bird) while I was out photographing the sunrise this morning..it seemed as if he was trying to talk to me, certainly not afraid. Will hopefully be in a post soon!


Salty said...

Some bird Id's can be quite tricky. Cowbirds are summer visitors in my area and are mostly seen with herds of cows. They gather where the cows are feeding and hop along on the ground around their feet. Cowbirds are considerably smaller than the Boat-Tailed Grackle females you have here.

Leedra said...

I like your update, especially the part about highlighting that part. We are all still in the learning stages.

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