Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Total shock

Typical summer sights.

Standing on rocks at Oven observing behavior. Parent grackle feeding two screaming kids. Terrific amount of noise.

And then a grackle arrived carrying something. I've seen grackles dunk their food to soften it and that's what this grackle was doing. I couldn't tell what it was, saw bit of yellow and assumed the grackle had found a part of a crayfish, perhaps something a fisherman had lost at the edge of the lake.

The grackle kept dunking its potential meal and then trying to swallow it. It wasn't until I got the images into the computer and onto the large monitor that I could see what it had. A bird's head!

The most likely scenario is that a hawk caught a bird, bit off its head, ate bird, or took bird body to one of the new fledglings. I've studied the bill of this head. It has the shape of a cardinal's bill. It doesn't have the length and sleekness of the adult starling's bill. I don't know if, in death, a cardinal's bill loses color.

The grackle really wanted to eat this head. It tried getting it down-the-hatch, couldn't, resumed dunking it.

I don't know the final chapter, because a second grackle waded in, tried to grab head, but owner flew off with it into the dense leaf cover. I know NY birds will eat almost anything, but this was a first. Grackles will eat bird heads.


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