Several times over the past three weeks, Tippi Hedren's worst nightmare has descended upon my backyard in the form of an enormous, cackling flock (several different flocks?) of grackles. They seemed to come from nowhere, their dark shapes flickering past my windows as they settled en masse onto the grass. So many of them, stopping all at once. Did one bird signal the rest to stop here? They made so much noise (and they all looked so much alike), how did they keep up with which bird was the leader? Was this yard a spur-of-the-moment decision, or had they sent a scout out ahead of the flock to scope out dining areas?
The picture above shows just a small area of the yard, but the entire yard was blanketed with these iridescent black and blue and purple birds. And perhaps I used the wrong word when I wrote that they "settled" in the yard. They landed softly, then hopped and fluttered from place to place, leaping over one another like winged Chinese checkers, searching out the tastiest morsels of . . . what?
The previous photo is blurry because the grackles were in constant motion. In fact, I took dozens of photographs, and nearly all of them are blurry. And the next one is one of the blurriest of all, because as suddenly as the birds had descended, they lifted off as one and flew over the fence to a neighbor's yard.
A few minutes after the grackles left, I let the dogs outside. They stopped short just past the edge of the patio. You can see by the tilt of Kadi's ear that the enclosed yard she's so familiar with had suddenly become rich with possibilities.
Until I saw the dogs' reaction, I hadn't considered that several hundred grackles were doing more than finding food at this particular rest stop.