Santaluces’ Little Terrors: Grackles


Kailyn Licari

Grackles seen all over Santaluces’ campus

Kailyn Licari, Staff Writer

 You’re sitting under the trees in the courtyard, enjoying your PB&J sandwich you made last minute. All is peaceful till you drop your PB&J and you hear it; the flapping of wings coming close. Before you know it a flock of little black and brown birds have descended upon your sandwich, tearing it to pieces and leaving your new shirt stained with some of their waste. Students wonder who these little terrors are. Are they crows? Ravens?

Well, the mystery is now solved. The name these birds hold is a single word: Grackles.

Female boat-tailed grackle (Kailyn Licari photo)

Grackles are native birds to the Americas that can be seen almost anywhere. They are identifiable by their glossy blueish black feathers that get them commonly confused with ravens and crows (though if looked at side by side they are extremely different). However, they aren’t only black; they can also be brown, indicating that they are female grackles. This means both the brown and black birds seen in the courtyard are actually the same species. There are varying species of grackles but the only one found native to Florida is the boat-tailed grackle. The boat tailed grackles are distinguishable by their brown eyes which are unlike the yellow eyes of many other grackles (such as the common grackle).

The reason these birds congregate in ridiculous numbers at Santaluces and any other public place is because they are attracted to areas with a lot of people. The cornell Lab of ornithology describes the boat tailed grackle as being a “opportunistic omnivore” and having “established commensal relationships with humans”. By doing so they can get a stable food source and be protected from predators as mentioned in the article. With big landing space and a constant buffet of dropped food, It’s no wonder why they swarm the courtyard.

The best way to avoid getting swarmed and defecated on by the grackles in the courtyard is to not drop food, litter or purposely feed them. To avoid them all together though it might be best to start eating lunches inside. These little birdies congregate year round here, meaning they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.