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September 15, 2009 7:02 PM   Subscribe

What are these black birds that took over my yard today?

Today there was at least a couple hundred black birds that were complete covering my mainly wooded yard. They were smaller then crows but bigger then robins. They would fly to the ground rest for a little while then fly up to the top of the oak trees and then across the street to the top of pine trees where there was plenty of pine cones, I assumed they were eating. What made me ask this was that there was just hundreds on them, and we see them once a year and its always the same thing, they land in our yard and the fly away after about 1/2 hour. This was in Central Mass by the Wachusett Reservoir.
posted by lilkeith07 to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: probably grackles
posted by HuronBob at 7:06 PM on September 15, 2009

Best answer: Yes, grackles. The black shiny ones are male; the females are a duller brown. They like to hang out by the thousands at grocery store parking lots. I used to live next door to a mall where they would shoot air cannons periodically to scare off the birds. The birds got really aggressive and would sometimes swoop down towards me as I walked to my car. I carried a badminton racket in my car for a while after one got so close that it pecked my ear mid flight. This may be an urban legend, but I had a professor who told a story about how there was a big campaign to poison the grackles and they ended up with dumpsters full. This was in south central Texas.

You are lucky they left.
posted by jschu at 7:19 PM on September 15, 2009

Best answer: Grackle invasions are intense! Once a year at the same time sounds like you might be part of their migration route. If you're interested in volunteer "citizen science", I think that some local Audubon chapters track migration patterns in addition to the Christmas Bird Count - might be worth giving them a call.
posted by heyforfour at 7:46 PM on September 15, 2009

Yup, those were grackles. You are probably far enough north to have been hit by a norther flock starting its migration south.
posted by strixus at 9:06 PM on September 15, 2009

Starlings also invade in mobs.
posted by mmw at 8:11 AM on September 16, 2009

Starlings are smaller than robins. I vote for grackles. I think they are awesome birds. Although right now there is one at my home that loves to poop on my car.
posted by bukvich at 10:01 AM on September 16, 2009

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