The Congress Avenue bats have headed to Mexico for the winter, but now the ducks are back on Lady Bird Lake. According to the Trail Foundation, many different varieties of ducks can be spotted here, but I’ve read elsewhere that most are Lesser Scaups. I also saw some Mallards this week; those green heads make them easy to identify.
Recently I’ve noticed more grackles around the lake. I thought that maybe they had migrated over the summer, but local NPR station KUT says that grackles live here year-round. They are more noticeable in the winter because they haven’t scattered to nest.
Grackles are smaller than crows and thrive in urban areas. They are a nuisance in many parts of Austin. That huge flock at the old Highland Mall on Airport Boulevard was pretty scary. In 2010, the City of Austin started a project to discourage grackles from hanging out downtown. I don’t know how successful this has been, but I would love to see the bird patrol squad “armed with large green laser pointers, similar in appearance to radar guns and set to a frequency particularly annoying to grackles.” That also sounds pretty scary.
While I’m writing about grackles, I must mention that I had one land on my head, just a block away from our apartment building. Fortunately the bird flew away before I realized what had happened. I quickly looked around to see if anyone else had noticed, but the street was deserted. The bird left nothing behind, if you know what I mean.