Seeing large groups of black birds in Abilene? Here’s why

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – They’re noisy and a bit messy, and this time of year it feels like they’re everywhere. The common grackle is native to Texas, but there’s a reason you’re seeing more as of late.

Grackles fly down Danville St.

“During this time of year the other grackles come out of the north into the southern part of the United States, so it looks like we have the invasion of ‘The Birds,’ Alfred Hitchcock, but in reality it’s just populations joining up with other populations in a warmer climate,” says Abilene Zoo Conservation Supervisor Clay Carabajal.

So, some are in town visiting and others have been here the whole time. While many are used to, and even fed up with, the noise each year, Carabajal says it would be welcome to some foreign ears.

“To us, it’s a common everyday thing, but to people from other countries, it’s something exotic,” Carabajal says.

In fact, some Europeans even have the Grackle on their “must see” list, and it’s important to get that one crossed off soon, now more than ever.

Facts on the migration patterns and conservation statistics of the Common North American Grackle

One Grackle about to take another’s perch

“Grackles are in steep decline as far as conservation numbers go,” Carabajal said.

Grackles may have adapted to urban life, congregating in parking lots to feed off of dropped food and bugs, but some cities have implemented anti-grackle measures that are contributing to their decline.

“If they’re not able to forage and get enough food, they cant go back and feed their babies in the nest, they can’t pick up enough food for migration, they can’t do the things they need to do to be a grackle,” Carabajal says.

Grackles perched on the Southwest Drive traffic light

Carabajal hopes that we will learn to live with and maybe even appreciate this native wildlife species.

“We need to understand that they are sharing our space and it’s OK, just don’t park your car under the tree that they’re sitting in,” says Carabajal.

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