Jamie M Chavez <jcwings@...>
Originally I only posted the grackle announcement to the Santa Barbara
County birding group so there may be some in SLO that aren't aware of
this story. I've included the text from the message below for anyone
interested in this. Mike has raised the question of whether or not
grackles are migratory. I can only say with regard to these particular
grackles that they were not present since last spring and summer since I
regularly cover Preisker throughout the fall and winter. I've been on
the lookout for these birds and they have only recently returned. Of
course, they could have simply moved out of the park to someplace
nearby. Curious... does it prefer the company of grackles or blackbirds?
The grackles appear to be seasonal.
He's back! The hybrid grackle has returned to Preisker Park in Santa
Maria. It was with a few blackbirds and a male and female Great-tailed
Grackle beginning nesting activities in the same pine tree as last year.
The identification on this bird more or less centered on Great-tailed X
Brewer's Blackbird (still uncertain) but its size closely resembles a
Common Grackle with a purplish sheen to its plumage. There are many new
members to this group since last summer so for those of you not involved
in the previous debate and discussion, this bird was found during last
year's Spring Migration Count and was originally misidentified (by yours
truly) to be a Common Grackle of the sedentary eastern "purple race". It
so closely resembled a Common Grackle in size and shape that I was
convinced this is what it was! The "bronzed grackle" remains the only
race of the Common Grackle to be found in the west since it is migratory
and prone to wandering. Last year this thing constantly displayed to
female Brewer's Blackbirds and called frequently. It even fed blackbird
chicks in an active nest, much to the disgust of the parent birds.
Preisker Park is located at the extreme north end of Santa Maria near
the S.M. River and 101 bridge. From north Broadway take Preisker Lane
north about two blocks to the park entrance. There is a row of
eucalyptus trees on your left as you enter the park. Next to the eucs
are about five or six pines. The grackles are nesting in the southern
most pine. The mystery bird frequents these pines or can be found
feeding on the lawn in the front portion of the park. It sometimes flies
out of the park and into the neighborhood directly to the east.
To see photos, a detailed description by Curtis Marantz and comment by a
few experts, go to Joe Morlan's California Birding Pages web site. Click
on the California Birding link, then go to Mystery Photos. This grackle
was the July '99 mystery bird. It is interesting to watch and a real