Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Attack of the Grackles!!

Bad, bad, bad Grackles!!



I thought these blooms were so pretty, so I kept several of them, knowing that the onions would be smaller, but still, I enjoyed the blooms.

The other day as I neared my vegetable garden I was welcomed by the VERY strong odor of onions. When I got closer about a thousand grackles (must be, at least) suddenly flew up, seemingly turning the sky black (remember The Birds?). It turns out that they were after my onions, a few of which I had let bloom because I thought the blooms were so unusal and pretty. Don't think I'll make that mistake again! I've never seen anything like it. They must have been going to seed and that was something that appealed to the grackles?? I already have to put up with them (grackles) emptying all of my bird feeders and turning my fountain and bird baths into mud at least once a day. They seem particularly bad this year and there are sooooo many babies. There aren't too many things in the animal kingdom that I don't like, but these are certainly one of them. Their constant squawking is an assault to the senses. I pulled all of the onions, but I can see they have been back looking for more. Sometimes I wonder what Mother Nature was thinking??

18 comments:

Mary said...

Oh, Bev... I lived with the grackles and starings for two months and they made me cringe every time I saw them. Making a mess of everything, chasing woodpeckers from the suet, dirtying the feeders and emptying them. It was awful. I filled me feeders with safflower seed for a while (supposed to deter the gangsta birds) but they ate it anyway. They have left - maybe two weeks ago and I don't know why.

Blackbirds usually arrive in flocks and I'm sorry they did so much damage. Something about that onion seed... It's a beautiful plant!

Maybe they will find a delicacy elsewhere!

Your photography is great. I'll be visiting you often.

Mary said...

I should preview my comments. I meant "starlings"...ooops!

LostRoses said...

Bev, no wonder I haven't seen a grackle in weeks, they're all at your house! Imagine them wanting your onions - they settle for sunflower seeds and peanuts here. I haven't seen them act destructive here but there's always a first time! At least it wasn't a flock of blood-thirsty seagulls a la Hitchcock!

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Uh oh! I had to google grackles as we (fortunately as it turns out to be) don't have them over here. What a pest they are.

I understand you wanting to enjoy the onion flowers because they are very pretty.

Will a scaregrackle errrrrrr scarecrow be any good in your garden, you think?

Bev said...

Mary, the reason they left where you are is because they smelled my onion seeds! And yes, starlings are right up there with them. In fact, they make even more of a mess in the bird baths, especially in winter. I've also tried the sawflower seed to no avail.

Connie said...

Major bummer....my sympathies!

Bev said...

LostRoses... I'd be happy to send some your way..grin!

Yolanda... You are really fortunate not to have these things, but I'm sure there are probably others that may be pests in your area. NOTHING scares these damn things. Sometimes when my husband and I are sitting out there we will keep the hose on hand and give them a good squirt. That keeps them away for about a minute and a half.

Bev said...

Connie, thanks for your sympathy!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Bev, you just solved a mystery for me. The same thing happened to my onions a couple of weeks ago--the damage looks exactly the same, anyway--and I had no idea what could be responsible. Now I have a pretty good clue!

The weird thing is, I have quite a few ornamental alliums, and chives as well. The only thing that they have ever bothered in my yard are those culinary onion flowers. Odd.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Another weird thought... they seem to have left the seedheads intact. But those stems are pretty open on the inside--do you think that they could have actually been after moisture?

Bev said...

Blackswamp Girl - Hmmmm... you raise an interesting thought. I noticed that too, and thought maybe they attacked the stems in order to collapse them so they could get the seed heads. But you are right, they left those intact and mutilated the stems. There is a fountain and 2 bird baths that they could use (and do), so why not those instead of the onions? Special onion moisture??? This is really a mystery. I'm glad you let me know that you had experienced this too. Let me know if you think of any more ideas. Hmmmmm, the mystery continues.

Naturegirl said...

I agree Bev that those blossoms are pretty. I don't think I know of Grackles? I must look in my bird book.

Bev said...

Naturegirl, just be glad you don't know any of these monsters. They are black birds, ugly, noise-mess-making creatures. When they have babies they are as big as they are and constantly follow their parents around squawking for food. Be thankful! They will be around here until sometime in Oct/Nov. Yuk!

Annie in Austin said...

Hi Bev,
In Illinois we had the regular grackles - here in Austin we have a different kind - called Boat-tailed grackles for an obvious reason.

We're not growing onions, however, so I don't know if our local birds would destroy them. I've heard that birds tear apart some kinds of herbs and artemesias, rubbing the leaves all over their feathers to get rid of parasites. Do you think it's possible that onion juice could kill mites in feathers and the birds were sort of shopping at the natural pharmacy?

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Bev said...

Annie, you have a very good point. I Googled grackles and found an article about a flock of grackles in Austin that fell from the sky. They determined they had parasites. That happened in Jan 2007.

Gayle said...

A large hardcover book opened and slapped together about 20 times on the deck frightens huge flocks of grackles from several large trees in my neighborhood. They must think it is gunshoots.

Ken said...

Great discussion. I just Gooogled myself here after watching grackles in my garden peck at the base of the stem and then "preen" themselves with the "juice". I was stunned. They are very destructive. Destroy a crop of onions in days. My guess is that they are using the oinion juice as an insect repellant. What do you think?

Jamie said...

I cannot stand the grackles.Here in Illinois right now they are every where in huge flocks.I fill my feeders and within a little over 1 day they are emptied by these greedy birds,my beautiful cardinals,blue jays and all the smaller birds don't stand a chance.They also eat all the suet cakes I put out for the woodpeckers.They do not scare easily and watch for me to disappear from the door and then they are right back devouring the food.