Grackle Flock Causing Issues in NW Seminole

January 5, 2018

A drive down State Hwy. 214 in the hour or so before sunset could possibly make one think they are living out a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s famous 1963 movie — The Birds.

In the dormant grass, perched along the fence lines or sitting atop electrical lines in the area, they congregate by the hundreds. If not over a thousand.
Squawking. Feeding on anything edible in site. And, flying off in mass if a passing vehicle appears to be heading in their direction.

They’re grackles.

And, for some residents and businesses in the area, they have become a nuisance since their arrival this past fall.

Jim Parrish, Chief Executive Officer of the Seminole Hospital District, said the flock has been an issue for the local medical facility “for some time.”

A flock of great-tailed grackles roost in the pre-sundown hour in the area of N.W. 11th St. and N.W. Ave. F in this Thursday photo. The flock, over the past several years, has grown and recently has become a problem for residents and businesses in northwestern Seminole. (Sentinel Photo/Dustin Wright)

“We’ve been looking into different solutions in trying to get rid of the birds,” said Parrish, who added large congregations of the grackles roost in the Seminole Hospital District’s trees during the night time hours, causing a loud ruckus with their calling and the added issue of a large amount of droppings upon the district’s property and vehicles parked around the medical facilities.

“We can go out there and powerwash (the droppings) away one day, and it goes right back to being a mess the next,” said Parrish.

According to the National Audubon Society, grackle is the common name of any of eleven passerine birds native to North and South America. The birds belong to various genera in the icterid family. In all the species with this name, adult males have black or mostly black plumage.

Commonly found in large flocks, grackles can typically thrive around agricultural fields, feedlots, city parks, and suburban lawns, where they forage for food. They’re also common in open habitats including woodland, forest edges, meadows, and marshes.

The most common type of grackle found in this region, according to the National Audubon Society, is the great-tailed grackle, which is common to the southwest, Texas, and Great Plains region of the U.S.

Male great-tailed grackles — according to the group’s website — are long-legged, slender blackbirds with a flat-headed profile and stout, straight bills.

The male’s tapered tail is nearly as long as its body and folds into a distinctive “V” or keel shape. Females are about half the size of males with long, slender tails. Male great-tailed grackles are iridescent black with piercing yellow eyes, and black bills and legs. Females are dark brown above, paler below, with a buff-colored throat and stripe above the eye. Juveniles have the female’s dark brown plumage, with streaked underparts and a dark eye.

Seminole City Administrator, Tommy Phillips, said in a Friday morning interview with the Seminole Sentinel he has began the process of looking into the grackles and is attempting to find a humane solution to relieve the community of its flock.

“At this point right now, I don’t know of anything we can do to alleviate ourselves of them that isn’t illegal or inhumane,” said Phillips, who added he intends to reach out to animal experts in the coming days and weeks in an attempt to find a solution.

Phillips stated the City of Seminole, in the past, had an issue with a large flock of pigeons in the downtown area, but has seen those numbers dwindle over the years.

“The first time I saw (the grackles), I was surprised at how many there were,” he said. “It looks like there are hundreds of thousands of them. And, they don’t look to be going away anytime soon.”

By Dustin Wright
Sentinel Managing Editor

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

Tags: ,

Category: Updates