I’m an amateur birder, and as such, I suppose I should love all birds. Unfortunately, I don’t. Grackles. I despise them, and right now, my back yard and bird feeders are under attack.
Grackles are among the largest of the blackbird family. They are not attractive birds, they have an irritating song (if you’d call it that), they hang in huge flocks and they eat everything in sight.
When the grackles move in, my cardinals and songbirds don’t have a chance at the feeder, and if I strew seeds on the ground for the sparrows and doves, the grackles make short work of whatever I put out. In the fall, they will strip every acorn from an oak tree before moving on to devour other food sources.
Birdseed is expensive as it is, and I simply can’t afford to feed a horde of grackles. Remember the old nursery rhyme? “Four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie.” Whoever wrote that must have had grackles, too. I‘d like to put a thousand of the pests into the oven and turn it to 500 degrees!
Over the weekend, a flock of about 50 moved in. They were everywhere, splashing all the water from my birdbaths and combing every inch of real estate for food. I have talked to other birders who don’t seem to have a grackle problem, but boy I do.
There are two things a birder can do when the grackles move in. First, you can take out a second mortgage and spend a fortune feeding them, or, as I do, put out food that they don’t like.
Safflower seeds are the answer.
Safflower seeds are fairly expensive, but the songbirds enjoy them and the grackles don’t. I really like putting sunflower hearts in my main feeder, but that’s impossible with the grackles. Even though the feeder has a spring-loaded perch that closes when a large bird lands, the grackles keep coming and coming, each time dislodging a few seeds, and then they eat them from the ground. Mission accomplished. But they won’t mess with a feeder that has safflower seeds.
The grackles hang around in this area until about the first of June, and then leave, thank heavens. Until then, it’s safflower seeds in my feeders.