Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) have arrived in large numbers to eat the seeds we scattered on the snow. They are so black that it was difficult in this morning’s dull light to get a photograph that shows their iridescent blues and greens (again caused by structural features in the feathers, not pigments). These birds are in the family Icteridae, which also includes blackbirds, meadowlarks, and orioles. They are omnivorous and will eat anything from seeds to insects, minnows, eggs, and small mammals. Northern members of this species move south in the winter and gather in large flocks. We have seen a flock of more than 100 in our neighborhood recently.
The name “grackle” is from the Latin “graculus”, which was the name given to the bird we now call the jackdaw (Corvus monedula), a small, gray-headed crow found in Europe.