No; not male domestic poultry, but grackles. Everybody recognizes the handsome, iridescent male, the largest blackbird of North America. Many don’t realize that Mrs. Grackle is the smaller, short-tailed brown bird nearby. Maybe you’ve heard somebody talking about “urracas.” Nobody really loves the great- or boat-tailed grackle, or at least not in the large numbers that form a rookery. The raucous noise and the all-coating products of digestion brought by a grackle roost are unwelcome, to say the least. Grackle droppings are proportionate to the size of the birds and will eat the finish of a motor vehicle in no time. They reconstitute into a truly unpleasant odiferous soup after a rain.

The local daily, perhaps in cooperation with the highway department (TxDOT), is reportedly trying to ward grackles off from its spacious parking lot and grounds on the scenic banks of the Colorado River. When grackles were ousted from their homes on campus by similar means, they merely relocated, and the result will always be the same, so be prepared for attempts if your yard is within a five-mile radius.

And in the meantime, don’t walk with your noise-skittish dog along the hike-and-bike trail near the bat bridge at sunset. Avian Flyaway, Inc., which bills itself on its website as offering “bird relocation systems,” promises the following (subject-verb “agreement” is from Avian Flyaway): “Startle devices, sound, proper timing, and an ingenious use of light insures the birds will ‘spend the night someplace else!'” How the flashing lights and two kinds of unpleasant sound will affect the Mexican free-tail bats nearby under the bridge is not known.

Harming grackles is illegal. Here’s the discouragement method that worked during the last grackle-relocation drive. Toward sundown, if a dozen or more showed signs of roosting, out came the slingshots and the barrel of old pecans in the shell. The pecans rattling and bouncing down through the tree canopy and from limb to limb encouraged the urracas to go nighty-night somewhere else.

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