Great-tailed Grackle Commotion

My oddball Labrador Retriever Sammy is a stubbornly unorthodox dog with a number of unusual habits and strange notions, one of them being that any black, flying creature is innately evil, which is a bit ironic since he himself is black and can easily jump over 5 foot (1.5 m) fences as if he had wings.

My black Labrador Retriever Sammy

Sammy will bark angrily at any black Carpenter Bee, Tarantula Hawk, Common Raven, or Turkey Vulture that dares to fly in or over my yard, but he saves the worst of his wrath for the most evil black flying creatures of them all, male Great-tailed Grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus).

Male Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) singing in a palm tree

Not only are male Great-tailed Grackles large and black, they are also quite bold and extremely noisy, which just seems to further enrage my dogs. Sammy has unfortunately taught my Doberman mix Bounder to bark at black flying creatures too, and they will both rush outside at the first sound of the male Great-tailed Grackle's alleged "singing" and begin barking at him. The Great-tailed Grackle always refuses to be frightened away by their barking and will actually begin "singing" louder in response, perhaps to be heard over their commotion.

The male Great-tailed Grackle's horribly loud "song" is a series of harsh rattles, squeaks like that of styrofoam rubbing together, whistles, sounds like the tuning of an old radio, and gravelly "Check!" calls. He may be "singing" in hopes of attracting a female, but my dogs' barking drowns him out until I drag them back into the house.

Female Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)

Female Great-tailed Grackles are also large, but they are brown instead of black. For some odd reason, I more often see male Great-tailed Grackles in my yard than females, which is too bad because my dogs don't really mind the acceptably non-evil brown-colored female Great-tailed Grackles.