Grackles Visit Parking Lots Across Texas

Grackles Visit Parking Lots Across Texas
A plague of grackles flying near a tree at sunset. | Image by Gerry Proteau

It likely would not feel like winter in Dallas without a visit from millions of black, chirping Grackles.

The birds — scientifically known as Quiscalus quiscula — make their way south this time of year, each year, to escape the northern chill. While temperatures in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex hover from the 20s to the 70s during this time, the birds have been spotted across the state, assuring the city’s residents the season is winter, even if the temperatures might say otherwise.

Jessica Yorzinski, a Texas A&M researcher, told KXAN that Grackles like to hang out in grocery store parking lots and along major highways. This, she said, is because they are drawn to the lights at night, where they can stay active.

Grackles like to roost during the winter months. This is why you see hundreds or even thousands of them sitting along power lines and in trees, rather than just one or two, she said.

The species’ swarming behavior, according to Yorzinski, is fascinating. She said this swarming behavior is unusual for birds in the United States and is more common in Africa.

Another fascinating feature of grackles, she said, is their eyes.

“The birds can basically be moving each eye independently from the other one,” Yorzinski said. She and a team of Texas A&M researchers published their research and findings on the birds in the journal Experimental Brain Research earlier this year.

On Wednesday night at the Irving Town Center, people sat in their cars and watched the birds while others tried to avoid them on their way into Target.

“It is kind of cool, but it is also kind of scary,” Regi Agnew of Irving told The Dallas Express. “Their song is so loud and so beautiful, but it is hard not to think of Tippi Hedrin being chased in The Birds, so I will just admire them from my car.”

According to Scott Williams at Penn State New Kensington, grackles can be found all over the United States and southern Canada. They are one of North America’s most common birds, though census data shows that their population has declined in recent years. Although Grackles abandon their northernmost ranges in the winter, they do not migrate widely.

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *