Common Grackle at Big Pine

Observers: Tom & Jo Heindel
Email: tjheindelataoldotcom
Remote Name:
Date: 08/31/2006
Time: 07:13 PM -0400

On 31 August we had a male Common Grackle join the blackbirds in our backyard. It sat four feet from a Red-wing Blackbird and dwarfed it. The bird looked black sitting in the bright shade but a patch of sun spotlighted its head as it turned it to show a dark, shiny blue head, pale yellow eye, a long, pointed black bill sticking out of a rounded head. It looks like a Brewer's Blackbird on steroids but with a longer tail. The sun never shined off the rest of the plumage so we didn't see the bronze color. We eliminated Brewer's Blackbird because it was midway in size between Red-wing Blackbird and American Crow and Brewer's is slightly larger than a Red-wing. We eliminated a Great-tailed Grackle on size, Great-tailed is like an American Crow, and head shape, sloped on Great-tailed and rounded on Common. This is a CBRC review bird requiring documentation. If accepted by the Committee it will be the earliest record ever for Inyo County and possibly for the state. The earliest Inyo record currently is 13 Sep 1998 at Bishop when Jim & Debby Parker photographed a male which was also the earliest for the state up through 2002, the latest for which we have state data. Prior to 1990, 0% of the Common Grackle records were from the Owens Valley. Now the valley claims 29% of the county's total reflecting the increased coverage by resident birders.