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Wizard
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July 17th, 2019 at 8:12:29 PM permalink
Last Tuesday I found myself outside of Texas A&M for a late dinner. Around sundown, out of nowhere, thousands of birds came appeared and generally acted crazy. The center of attention was some nearby oak trees, but they were flying a very large around and above it. I posted the following video I made of them on YouTube:



Direct: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZDOeWr8oKo

I'm hearing all kinds of opinions on what these birds are, but most are either starlings or grackles. What do you say? Multiple votes allowed.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
wellwellwell
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July 17th, 2019 at 8:20:50 PM permalink
I have always heard them referred to as grackles. Never researched if that was correct.

Did you make it to the Dixie Chicken?
Wizard
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July 17th, 2019 at 8:33:50 PM permalink
Quote: wellwellwell

Did you make it to the Dixie Chicken?



Yes! That is where I was eating and drinking when they appeared. I should have asked someone there what in the heck they were.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
Doc
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July 17th, 2019 at 9:03:35 PM permalink
No idea what kind of birds they are. Side note (and just a wild guess), but it seems that standing/strolling/wandering beneath those trees filled with excited birds, as demonstrated in the video, might be an effective means to wind up covered in bird poop.
rxwine
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July 17th, 2019 at 9:15:20 PM permalink
Hitchcock cameo at 2:01
; )
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Wizard
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July 17th, 2019 at 9:22:12 PM permalink
Quote: Doc

, might be an effective means to wind up covered in bird poop.



Both my son and I had souvenirs of the experience.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
MaxPen
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July 17th, 2019 at 10:46:12 PM permalink
Grackles have a very long tail section and alot of those birds seemed to have that. They also are abundant in Texas. Most likely that. Kind of curious if that's a meteor at around the 47 second mark. Have to go back and watch again.
bobbartop
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July 18th, 2019 at 4:25:27 AM permalink
Quote: MaxPen

Grackles have a very long tail section and alot of those birds seemed to have that. They also are abundant in Texas. Most likely that. Kind of curious if that's a meteor at around the 47 second mark. Have to go back and watch again.




I was thinking it might be Jupiter, which is quite bright right now, but it doesn't look late enough.

btw, I don't suppose those birds are swallows, are they?
'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.
odiousgambit
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July 18th, 2019 at 4:31:16 AM permalink
Quote: MaxPen

Kind of curious if that's a meteor at around the 47 second mark. Have to go back and watch again.

Pretty sure it's the moon . Not ruling out a UFO
the next time Dame Fortune toys with your heart, your soul and your wallet, raise your glass and praise her thus: “Thanks for nothing, you cold-hearted, evil, damnable, nefarious, low-life, malicious monster from Hell!”   She is, after all, stone deaf. ... Arnold Snyder
odiousgambit
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July 18th, 2019 at 4:45:38 AM permalink
The sound they make doesn't 'say Grackle' to me, having definitely been subjected to flocks of those, but I still would vote for Grackle just assuming I don't remember right. I remember at least *some* harsh notes with the Grackle, after all they are named 'grackle' in imitation of a common sound they make [I'm pretty sure] . There is a slight possibility it is a Chihuahuan Raven, but I think that being such a large flock in your video might rule it out. Also the sound they make rules them out, it would seem, but I wonder about that.


https://txtbba.tamu.edu/species-accounts/chihuahuan-raven/
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Chihuahuan_Raven/


I was in San Antonio a while back and was fascinated by these C. Ravens. The locals told me they were ravens and I have to assume I have it right to say it was the Chihuahuan. A small bird to be called a raven for sure. They were completely unafraid of humans and were just all over the place, sort of like pigeons but less offensive somehow, with interesting behavior and sounds. The Cornell labs has one sound they make, but I seem to remember a range of sounds.

I wondered if a lot of people turn them into pets.
the next time Dame Fortune toys with your heart, your soul and your wallet, raise your glass and praise her thus: “Thanks for nothing, you cold-hearted, evil, damnable, nefarious, low-life, malicious monster from Hell!”   She is, after all, stone deaf. ... Arnold Snyder
Wizard
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July 18th, 2019 at 5:38:19 AM permalink
Quote: MaxPen

Kind of curious if that's a meteor at around the 47 second mark.



That was the moon.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
AZDuffman
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July 18th, 2019 at 5:41:45 AM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Yes! That is where I was eating and drinking when they appeared. I should have asked someone there what in the heck they were.



Sounds good, was it any good?
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AxelWolf
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July 18th, 2019 at 7:47:19 AM permalink
If I seen a flock of birds like that I would just assume there were Starlings and then I would never think about it again.
♪♪Now you swear and kick and beg us That you're not a gamblin' man Then you find you're back in Vegas With a handle in your hand♪♪ Your black cards can make you money So you hide them when you're able In the land of casinos and money You must put them on the table♪♪ You go back Jack do it again roulette wheels turinin' 'round and 'round♪♪ You go back Jack do it again♪♪
Wizard
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July 18th, 2019 at 8:58:34 AM permalink
Quote: AZDuffman

Sounds good, was it any good?



It was good, but not great.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
Ayecarumba
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July 18th, 2019 at 9:14:10 AM permalink
Quote: allaboutbirds.org

Common Grackles are large, lanky blackbirds with long legs and long tails. The head is flat and the bill is longer than in most blackbirds, with the hint of a downward curve. In flight, the wings appear short in comparison to the tail. Males are slightly larger than females.







A Starling:
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DogHand
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July 18th, 2019 at 1:13:43 PM permalink
Wiz,

Those are starlings. The grackles in Southeast Texas are called "boat-tailed grackles": they have long tails, which the birds in your video seem to lack.

Dog Hand
Doc
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July 18th, 2019 at 4:46:15 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Quote: Doc

, might be an effective means to wind up covered in bird poop.

Both my son and I had souvenirs of the experience.


A poem recalled from childhood:

"Birdy, birdy, in the sky
Dropped some whitewash in my eye.
I don't worry; I don't cry.
I'm just glad that cows don't fly."




So how many of you heard that ditty long ago?
Wizard
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July 18th, 2019 at 5:15:25 PM permalink
Quote: DogHand

Wiz,

Those are starlings. The grackles in Southeast Texas are called "boat-tailed grackles": they have long tails, which the birds in your video seem to lack.



Thank you. Then why do so many people think they are grackles?
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
wellwellwell
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July 18th, 2019 at 5:26:08 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Thank you. Then why do so many people think they are grackles?



Did they have orange or black feet?

See pics above. LOL

edit:

Just watched the video and paused as several birds came in close and they appear to me to have long tails.

Also:
https://www.timesrecordnews.com/story/news/local/2017/12/09/grappling-grackles-birds-roosting-massive-flocks-around-town/937443001/
Tanko
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July 18th, 2019 at 5:48:12 PM permalink
Starlings. In 1890 Eugene Schieffelin imported sixty starlings from England, and released them in Central Park. He did it again in 1891.

Today, there are 200 million of them on the continent.

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rxwine
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beachbumbabs
July 18th, 2019 at 5:48:20 PM permalink
THEY'RE BATS!
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ChesterDog
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July 19th, 2019 at 8:56:34 PM permalink
Here's a nice story from KUT, an Austin radio station, answering why grackles flock to grocery store parking lots at dusk: https://www.kut.org/post/why-do-grackles-flock-grocery-store-parking-lots-dusk

And here's a page showing the three grackle species and related birds: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/browse/taxonomy/Icteridae
Wizard
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July 20th, 2019 at 8:30:27 AM permalink
I called the Dixie Chicken and the woman who answered the phone thought it was a combination of various types of birds. To be honest, I think she's wrong.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
odiousgambit
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July 20th, 2019 at 9:22:34 AM permalink
Quote: Wizard

I called the Dixie Chicken and the woman who answered the phone thought it was a combination of various types of birds. To be honest, I think she's wrong.

Evidently no one ever told her birds of a feather flock together. I agree she likely is wrong, which didn't stop her from blabbing her opinion, who does that remind you of? casino employees of course.

'the locals' can be wrong about their own points of interest, history, etc
the next time Dame Fortune toys with your heart, your soul and your wallet, raise your glass and praise her thus: “Thanks for nothing, you cold-hearted, evil, damnable, nefarious, low-life, malicious monster from Hell!”   She is, after all, stone deaf. ... Arnold Snyder
Wizard
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July 20th, 2019 at 10:42:29 AM permalink
Quote: odiousgambit

Evidently no one ever told her birds of a feather flock together.



That's why I thought she was wrong.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
Wizard
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July 20th, 2019 at 10:56:38 AM permalink
To focus on the sounds, let me present a couple other videos:

Starlings:


Grackles:


Based on the sound, I think the Dixie Chicken birds in my video are grackles.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
FleaStiff
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July 21st, 2019 at 5:45:23 AM permalink
Mexican free tailed bats are smaller and swarm at dusk to feed on insects, particularly mosquitoes though not as many of them as was once thought. Texas has dozens of bat watching parks and preserves.

These birds appear larger and are vocally active in a frequency range people can hear, also they appear interested in the tree tops and wide-open spaces where they can avoid predators, the restaurant mentioned probably serves French Fries which has become their favorite meal so my vote goes to Grackles

Starlings are far more aggressive and if these birds were starlings the local ranchers and farmers would be hiring several Raptor Wranglers to reduce the population and increase crop yields by twenty percent.
Doc
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July 21st, 2019 at 7:02:09 AM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Both my son and I had souvenirs of the experience.


I apologize for being stuck on a side issue, but the linked comic strip today reminded me of this thread:

https://www.gocomics.com/overboard/2019/07/21
Wizard
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July 26th, 2019 at 8:18:02 PM permalink
I Emailed a professor at Texas A&M about the birds in question in the video. He kindly Emailed me back. Here is his reply.

Quote: Gary Voelker


Most of what I can focus on seem to be grackles... big flockers. But could be starlings in there, but couldn't focus on any with clearly short tails.

Gary Voelker
Professor and Curator of Birds
Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences
Texas A&M University

"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
Doc
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July 27th, 2019 at 7:05:32 AM permalink
Nice pun, I think.
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