Grackles are always present in Austin. But during certain times of the year - such as fall - they're really present. They aren't exclusive to Austin, of course, but when you consider the quantity and volume of these birds, you might suspect that they are.
Unlike Austin's beloved migratory Mexican Free-Tail Bats, which attract throngs of visitors and locals alike to view their nightly flight en masse from beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge, our grackles only seem to attract . . . well, more grackles.
So why give them their own page? No, they're not a true Austin attraction. But I feel they've earned inclusion nonetheless. They definitely command a certain level of respect, or at least notice.
If you've ever been around them at dusk in the fall in some area of Austin where there are plenty of trees, telephone wires, and/or good rooftop ledges, you will likely be forced to take notice. Whatever you want to call it--congregating, flocking, reenacting scenes from Alfred Hitchcock--when the grackles really get going, it's impossible to miss.
These creatures will never be described majestic. In fact, if you observe these birds for any length of time, you'll understand why the archetypal Trickster figure in many Native American myths so often take the form of crows or blackbirds.
What Austinite hasn't had at least one unpleasant encounter with the infamous grackle? Even if they were better behaved birds, their sheer number would still lead to the occasional "accident."
But these are intelligent creatures and, of course, they know exactly what they're doing when they target your head or your shoulder or your entree or your beverage of choice.
If you're going to dine or drink in any of Austin's fine patio areas, you should take as much care selecting your seat as if you were Wild Bill Hickok sitting down to play a hand or two of poker in the Dakota territory.
Never plant yourself under a wire or an exposed branch. Never park beneath a tree in any parking lot in Austin. Never assume that good karma or a pure heart will protect you from being shat upon from above.
What's the worst thing a grackle has ever done to you, a loved one, your car, or your dinner or drink you were trying to enjoy while you were minding your own business out on the patio of your favorite eating or drinking establishment?
Help compile evidence against these rude, winged menaces by sharing your most memorable grackle story. Whether it happened in Austin or somewhere else, we want to hear about it.
Or are you a defender of grackles? Here's your chance to stick up for these squawkers and explain why you think the creatures are unfairly maligned.