A male Grackle led a noisy band of Grackles to a small island in the marshes. After they landed, he posted himself on the highest branch and called out to them.
According to the dictionary, a pose is “a sustained posture, especially one assumed for artistic effect”. The second part of the definition does not apply to birds. Most birds fly, and they do so gracefully as their bodies have to conform to the demands of aerodynamics. At rest, they become more compact and assume natural poses to observe their surroundings, or to preserve heat when necessary.
This past Sunday, as I stood by the side of the Ocean City Welcome Center to photograph Night Heron nests, there were many herons flying in and out of the rookery every few minutes. I tried to swing my camera around and aimed at them, but they were so fast that I never knew whether I managed to capture any of them. Actually, I did miss most of them, but the following somehow came out rather well.
Grackles are almost cartoonish birds because of their dark colors and yellow, seemingly malevolent eyes. They are everywhere, especially at places where they can forage for food. They eat everything from corn to worms. Sometimes they fly together in giant flocks which can inflict severe damage on corn fields. Three weeks ago, I saw a band of them at the Ocean City Welcome Center in New Jersey and shot the following photos.
A few days ago, I hung out a suet cake. The smaller birds loved it. Then this grackle showed up. He eyed the cake for a long time.
He flew up to it and swung about for about a minute.
He must not have found it comfortable and easy to get at the suet, because he gave up, flew away, and hasn’t been back since.
I went to the county park today to look for birds to photograph. After about half an hour, I noticed a pair of grackles (and not purple martins as I wrote previously) in the midst of a courtship ritual. The male, shiny and bluish purple, was placing some food into the open beak of the brown female. This is what some male birds do to convince a potential mate that they are up to the task of taking care of her and their future brood.
This may be the same couple a few minutes later.
Last week, I also saw the same behavior with our backyard cardinals. A female cardinal kept fluttering her wings while perched over a bowl of sunflower seeds that I had put out on our deck. At first I thought she was sick or in distress, as she would not eat anything. Then a red male cardinal swooped in, picked a seed and placed it in her beak. He did it twice again. I ran to get my camera, but by the time I came back the pair had flown away.