What Are Those Massive Flocks Of Black Birds In High Plains Trees During The Winter?

Jan 30, 2018

Credit CC0 Creative Commons

If you live on the High Plains, you’re likely familiar with grackles.

In Amarillo the birds can often be seen in prolific numbers, lurking in trees above strip mall parking lots, like an image out of a postmodern Edgar Alan Poe spoof.

KTRK recently published a few facts about the black birds, courtesy of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The type most common in Texas and the rest of the southern plains is the great-tailed grackle.

If you see a large and lanky black grackle with pale yellow eyes, you’re looking at a male. If you see a smaller brown one, that’s a female. Due to their smaller size, the females tend to live longer.

It’s estimated that there are 10 million grackles worldwide, and over half of those live in the U.S. In the wintertime, the birds are known for roosting in large trees known as “roost trees.”

The oldest known grackle lived to be almost eight years old.