Tag Archives: black bird

Through the Eyes of a Child

Grackle

The phone rang as I was on the way out the door.  I dashed back up the front stairs to get it.  The little girl across the street was bubbling with excitement; partly because she had been allowed to use the phone but mostly because she had seen a bird.  When I asked what it looked like, she said it was mixed up with a green head and a shiny purple body.  After running through all of the birds in the field guide in my head, I listened to her prattle on with indulgence but not paying strict attention; assuming it was imaginary.  She could hear the distance in my voice and knew I was placating her.  In frustration she handed the phone to her mother, who thanked me for listening.  We both laughed grown-up laughs.

Hours later, I was pulling weeds in the front flower bed, when a Grackle hopped up onto a low fence.  The sunlight caught the sheen of its feather in such a way that it had a green head and a purple body.  I finally put the pieces of the mystery bird together.  The key word had been shiny.  I called across the street to the neighbor girl to ask if this was the bird she had seen.  She gave me a pitying glance and an eye-roll.  “No,” she said. “That bird is black.” From her angle it was a basic black bird, but from mine, and her’s earlier, it was iridescent.

I now hold onto watching birds through the eyes of a child, where a common black bird can become a thing of beauty, mystery and imagination.

Ah, my littlest neighbor, I promise, next time, I will believe you.

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Bird Photography Weekly

Boat-tailed Grackle

Look at that tail!  Let’s see–at the beach, in Texas, long wonky tail, must be a Boat-tailed Grackle.  I can usually tell the difference between the Boat-tailed and Great-tailed Grackle not by size, and the tail of a Great-tailed Grackle is a crazy thing to behold, but by voice and habitat.  The Boat-tailed Grackle is a beach-loving surfer dude (Ok, I made up the surfer dude part, but they are coastal).  While the Great-tailed Grackle is more inland.  Their ranges do overlap though.  The real key for me as to which is which, is their voices.  They could not be more different.  The Boat-tailed Grackle has a pretty ringing sort of call (and will always remind me of Florida for some reason)while the Great-tailed Grackle’s voice  is harsh and sounds like for all the world like crumpling a wad of paper.  Seriously.

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