#395 Great-tailed Grackle at Ace Hardware

One of the coll things about moving to a new part of the country is that almost anywhere becomes a potential source for life birds, like these Great-tailed Grackles I found yesterday at the strip mall at the intersection of Culver and Michelson in Irvine:

Great-tailed Grackle male

(Yes, I know these pictures suck. This is what happens when you take pictures of a jet black bird on a bright California afternoon with a consumer grade camera, then discover Photoshop won’t run on any of the computers you have handy.)

Great-tailed Grackle female

We had just driven over to replace a few screws the movers had lost, but when we got out of the car there was such a raucous cacophony I thought we might have stumbled on one of California’s flocks of wild parrots. Instead, we’d found maybe ten Great-tailed Grackles. These look a lot like the Boat-tailed Grackles I know well from New York, but their calls are very different: more varied and less metallic. They’re also a little bigger. Finally, there just aren’t any Boat-tailed Grackles out this way so any large glossy black bird with a long tail and a yellow iris pretty much has to be a Great-tailed Grackle. (Do be careful to distinguish them from the much smaller, shorter-tailed, and even more common Brewer’s Blackbirds, though. In this parking lot both species were present, so it was trivial to distinguish them by size.)

My California life total (151) is now just one bird short of my New Jersey total (152). If I’m lucky, maybe today I can find a Greater Roadrunner at the dry cleaners.

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