One of my fondest memories is being greeted by the calls of boat-tailed grackles at the Florida welcome center after driving nearly a thousand miles from New York. The calls along with the warm Florida sunshine signified an escape from the cold wintry weather of the north and the start of our family vacation.
Boat-tailed grackles are a coastal species endemic to Florida and along the Atlantic Seaboard from Georgia to New England. It is omnivorous – it eats seeds, fish, snails, berries and insects.
Recently, I observed one in the surf of Cocoa Beach, Florida where it walked in the wash of the incoming waves plucking small fish and other sea life from the salty water. These grackles also like cookies, chips and other snacks that they steal from unsuspecting sunbathers’ bags when they are not looking.
I have also seen these birds forage along the edges of freshwater lakes here in Florida where it wades in the shallow water to eat tadpoles, shrimp and aquatic insects.
Though I now live in Florida and see and hear these birds every day, it still brings back fond memories of our visits to Florida.