More Bird Watching

For a non-bird-watcher, I am seeing a lot of birds downtown lately!

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. 

Flocks of Canadian geese have been flying over the lake for weeks now. And I often see Great Egrets when walking on the hike-and-bike trail.

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.

I have one more exciting bird-related activity to relate. As I was walking around Auditorium Shores this week, I finally saw some of the feral parrots that live downtown. These are Monk Parakeets, also known as Quaker Parrots. Their nest is in a cell tower near the Austin Amtrak station. I was glad to see that they were holding their own with those nasty grackles.

2 thoughts on “More Bird Watching

  1. “feral parrots” – that just seems like such a funny expression. I had never heard of a grackle before. I love how you observe everything around you with such a keen eye.

  2. Thanks! There are several flocks of parrots in Austin but I hadn’t seen the downtown ones before. In my mind, grackles are the southern version of crows but more annoying. Not technically accurate but you get the idea…

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