Thursday, November 14, 2019

A gathering of grackles

Boat-tailed Grackles spend much of their non-breeding season in same-sex flocks which roost together in the wetlands as well as suburban parks and back yards. Males continuously compete for dominance which intensifies later in the winter as breeding season approaches. 

The top alpha male will reign over a harem of a dozen or more females. They engage in displays which are mostly bluffing and bullying but may become violent. Older males usually are the ones challenging each other, while those younger than two years of age often gather around the competitors. Older adult males have iridescent plumage while younger birds may be dull black or even a bit brownish.

This past week I watched flocks fly in from the Everglades preserve. Many gathered along the shore of the lake in our local wetlands patch. Two groups of 8-10 formed on rock islands in the lake as the alpha males asserted their dominance:

Two rival males pointed their bills skyward while less aggressive adults and younger birds looked on::

Boat-tailed Grackles 01-20191108 

Boat-tailed Grackles 06-20191108

The alpha male fluffed his feathers after his rival flew off:

Boat-tailed Grackles 07-20191108

Long legs are an adaptation to the grackle's feeding style, as it often wades in the shallow water along the shore, probing the vegetation as it searches for invertebrates or anything edible:

Boat-tailed Grackle 01-20191108

Boat-tailed Grackle 02-20191108

Non-alpha males seem to get along with each other:

Boat-tailed Grackles 05-20191108

Boat-tailed Grackles 04-20191108

Boat-tailed Grackles 02-20191108

During breeding season the subservient males will gather around the periphery of the breeding colony which is guarded by one (or sometimes two or three) dominant males. They will follow females who leave the perimeter and often successfully mate with them if not detected by the harem master.

More lakeside confrontations, between two adults...

Boat-tailed Grackles 01-20191018

...and sometimes just to assert dominance over an immature male:

Boat-tailed Grackles 01-20180111

The Moon is backdrop for a singing male:

Boat-tailed Grackle 02-20170413

Female Boat-tailed Grackles are brown and smaller, looking almost like a  different species:

Boat-tailed Grackle female 20190928

This female has closed her nictitating membrane, or "third  eyelid:"

Boat-tailed Grackle female 3-20190928

We have had some beautiful sunrises. Our only open view is to the west, over the wetlands lake, so we see the play of light on the opposite horizon. This is the pine bank about 10 minutes before sunrise:

Pine Bank before sunrise 04-20101106

To the north, a Great Egret is foraging:

Great Egret before sunrise 03-20191106

 A closeup of the egret in poor light:

Great Egret before sunrise 20191106

As we entered in darkness, a Tropical Orb Weaver was tending her web, illuminated by my flashlight:

Tropical Orb Weaver in flashlight 20191022

Tropical Orb Weaver in flashlight 20191024

Closeups with my pocket camera (
Canon PowerShot SX700 HS with 30x Optical Zoom hand-held, which I also use for my landscape and habitat photos):

Tropical Orb Weaver in flashlight 2-20191025

Tropical Orb Weaver 20191105

This spider is nocturnal and it takes down its web before sunrise. I was amazed to see how quickly it gathered large sections of the web, winding the silken threads into a tight ball which it promptly ate. The web disappeared in less than one minute. Only the main supporting cable remained. It led from the ground up to a tree branch where the spider stores the prey it catches during the night. This practice conserves food and provides energy for the next night's work. 

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display



  1. The first sunrise with a reflection is stunning although the second is just as gorgeous!

  2. I love, love, love the skywatch image. Have a nice weekend.

  3. Incredible captures. Excellent details in the pics.
    Have a great weekend.

  4. Wow! You are a fabulous photographer of all nature and bird scenes.

  5. Fascinating post. Have never heard of Grackles, but they are very handsome and their behaviour is interesting. Great sunsets too.

  6. That sunrise with its reflections is absolutely STUNNING Kenneth. Thanks for showing us all the bird photographs. I am back again for a little while from my travels to Aus. and the I.O.W so trying to catch up. Have a wonderful weekend.

  7. Some really splendid photos here. I particularly liked the groups of grackles against the pale background, what a lovely tonal contrast - and the spider in the flashlight was terrific - at first I wondered what it could possibly be. You ought to enter the first one in that series into a photo competition! I always enjoy your beautiful photos of the natural world.

  8. Interesting bird behavior. I really like the first few shots against the white background. Have a nice weekend!

  9. This was all so interesting to read about the crackles & the ritual of the spider. I learned a great deal today. And your sky images are stellar!!

  10. Ps...thanks for the input on warbler ID- I DO KNOW, tho, that was a pyrrhuloxia!

  11. Hello Ken, great photo collection on the Grackles. They are beautiful birds. The spider shot is cool. The sunrise and reflection are gorgeous photos, love the egret too. Great post. Thanks so much for linking up and sharing your post. Have a great day and a happy new week ahead!

  12. How interesting about the spider. We are having to really watch for webs on the trails. A good reason to wear a cap! Beautiful Grackles and photos of the sky! Have a great Sunday!

  13. Great colors and the top reflection is amazing!

  14. Pretty birds and beautiful sky. Have a wonderful new week!

  15. Your photos are amazing!
    The nocturnal spider is also very nice captured!
    Have a good week ahead and thanks for visiting!

  16. Beautiful photos! I especially like the amazing reflective photos!! Thank you!

  17. Amazing collection of photos, thank you for sharing.
    I enjoyed learning more about the birds and the spider.
    I think I need to get a Cannon PowerShot too.

  18. You have so much fun with your camera being among the birds, Kenneth. I'm glad you like to share your joy with us. :-)

  19. Interesting series. The pictures are excellent. Well done!

  20. The story about the aggressive grackles is amazing! didn't know there was competition among birds! Awesome spider web, and love the sunrises, such beautiful colors! Thank you for your concern about the fires. None of them are close, so we are safe! Thank you for linking this beautiful post to all Seasons, and enjoy your week! Jesh

  21. Beautiful photos! Yours always are!
    Thanks for linking up at


Thank you for visiting Rosyfinch Ramblings! I will enjoy a visit to your page just as soon as possible. Some anonymous comments and some containing active links may not be accepted.