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The Iridescent Icteridaes


Common Grackle

Quiscalus quiscula

This grackle may be considered common but it’s definitely not ordinary. Common Grackles (COGR) have no chill when it comes to showing up uninvited and basically loitering. No dine and dash for them. They’ll eat and then stick around to case the joint in hopes of getting more food, even if it involves stealing it. These boisterous blackbirds belong Icteridae family and are related to the bobolink, American blackbirds and orioles, meadowlarks and cowbirds.

COGRs are very interesting. They practice a behavior called “anting” which involves rubbing ants on their feathers. There have been numerous studies done about this strange behavior that’s practiced by over 200 bird species. From extensive research, the scientific conclusion on why they practice “anting” seems to be...it feels good to them.


Another fascinating thing about these iridescent Icteridaes is that they have magnetite in their necks, heads and beaks. This mineral allows them to use the earth’s geomagnetic fields to navigate. Maybe that’s how five of them found my backyard bird sanctuary four days ago. They’re currently walking around like security.



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