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THE BRONZED GRACKLE
(Quiscalus quiscula Šneus)
THE bronzed grackles are, on close acquaintance, more interesting birds than their dull plumage and unmusical calls might, perhaps, at first incline the casual observer to expect. These birds and their eastern cousins, the purple grackles, arrive north in large flocks early in spring, but they generally spend several weeks enjoying themselves in idleness before settling down to the serious task of raising a family. They nest in small colonies, frequently near water, usually placing their nests high in trees; but the writer has also found them in bushes, as well as slung like the red-wings' nests, a foot or two above water.
The accompanying photographs were taken at a nesting site near a small lake, many of the nests being scattered on small islands, where they were free from molestation. As the grackles walked along the water's edge with their peculiarly ludicrous strides, they presented with their glassy yellow eyes a striking appearance. Frequently they submerge their entire foreparts in efforts to secure choice morsels, and on certain rare occasions I have seen them dive from the air into the water for shiners as do terns, rising to shake the moisture from their feathers with as little concern as do the real divers. But the grackles also obtain much of their food in the underbrush and on the meadows.
The males sing repeatedly the few notes of their not unpleasing song, accompanying this with the ruffling of feathers and the spreading of tails, and they often follow the females, uttering this song, which is apparently characteristic of the mating season. While he accompanies his mate as she collects dry grass and other materials for her nest, the male, without lending active assistance, appears to act merely the role of protector, being coaxed by the plaintive little calls of his partner to remain near at hand. Yet later he enters strenuously into the task of feeding the young. Being very active the female soon has her nest completed and entrusted with four or five brownish spotted eggs.
HOMEWARD BOUND WITH A MORSEL FOR BABY GRACKLES
A MALE BRONZED GRACKLE PICKING UP FOOD AT THE WATER'S EDGE.
HIS WEDGE-SHAPED TAIL EASILY DISTINGUISHES HIM FROM THE FEMALE
THE FEMALE GRACKLE IS SLIGHTLY SMALLER AND LACKS THE WEDGE-SHAPED TAIL OF THE MALE
BRONZED GRACKLE SINGING. THE FEW NOTES OF THE SONG ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THE
RUFFLING OF THE FEATHERS ON THE BACK, AND A SLIGHT SPREADING OF THE WINGS