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Common Grackle as a Housepet

Discussion in 'Softbill Circle' started by Lula, 3/28/13.

  1. Hekate

    Hekate Checking out the neighborhood

    Joined:
    6/19/17
    Messages:
    1
    Real Name:
    Cathaera Stephens
    Hello there, I am currently stuck with a young Great Tailed Grackle. I'm finding him to be very engaging and the level of intelligence is quite remarkable. "Cackle" as I ended up calling him was found by my husband while mowing the pastures with the tractor. He almost ran over the bird. "Cackle" was an acre away from the nearest nesting site, he was extremely underweight, should not have been out of the nest and had the "weaving and unsteadiness" I've seen in young birds that are beginning to develop rickets.

    Feeding him is easy enough, before an evil possum beheaded my hand raised group (yes they even ate from my hand) of Guinea Fowl, I had a baby bird mix used for them. It's amazingly easy to prepare for a young bird. Hot water to the right consistency, usually a heavy'ish paste that you can roll worm shapes with does well. In Cackle's case during the first three days, his symptoms worsened. I do have gel caps containing easy to metabolize calcium. I started adding the calcium to Cackle's mix and the weaving and unsteadiness disappeared within 48 hours. The bird mix I'm using is a high protein, high calcium and everything else a fast growing baby bird needs to do well.
    (My Starling, "Birdie Num Num" did very well on it along with a number of rescued and released Red Shouldered Blackbirds and Vesper Sparrows)
    Living in the country as I do, feed stores make it easy to get large supplies of premixed just made for babies bird pellets used for raising Guinea Fowl, Pheasants and all sorts of birds that are omnivorous like Grackles are. Great Tailed Grackle males grow extremely fast and develop feathers faster than any baby bird I've seen so watching him over the last three weeks has been interesting. An unwell bird will be tipped out of the nest and driven off. It's the first time I've had to add calcium to what I've used to raise baby birds.

    Contact is necessary, talking to them is important. Grackles are talkative birds and tend only to be cuddly while very small. They assert their independence later. "Cackle" would be going on plumage, approximately 20 days old and at a point where he is ready to fledge. Great Tailed Grackles will continue to follow their mothers around for some time afterwards to learn how to forage. Some might ask how I know it's a boy and how on earth would I know what kind of Grackle he is.... Well, strangely enough considering where we are in northern central Illinois, our small farm hosts a large Great Tailed Grackle nesting colony. The variation of Common Grackle we have are "Purple Grackles" - their bodies are solid black in the males with mainly a purplish or blue and purplish sheen to the feathers. Great Tailed Grackles are not born with brown eyes most of the time, they are a curious silvery blue'ish color and in Cackle's case are turning distinctive yellow. He has absolutely no brown or even mildly brownish feathers anywhere. The Great Tails are more musical than most, not much in the way of "screeching" here, they sing, they're highly social and tend to feed along with the Red Shouldered Blackbirds and Starlings. They even get along with the Ravens. Common Grackles are not something I see much of, I saw ONE solitary male for the first time this year yesterday as he was hanging around the kitchen window until the Cardinal's ran him off.

    Well raised Grackles are fun, when released, even if they migrate they usually come back to where they were found and will come back to the people that raised them. Our farm is a haven for them as since we are surrounded by corn growers, anywhere else they get trapped, poisoned or shot.


    Developmentally, I've noticed some extremely interesting aspects of behavior. I'm not originally from the USA, I did do a lot of rehabilitation and rescue however in Australia so if I find a new bird, I do a lot of reading to find out what I end up with. In the time Cackle has been with me, his growth rate has been astounding. He's tripled his weight. As an underweight and underfeathered baby with these crazy eyebrow tufts and tufts in his wings, he was around the same size and weight as my adult Starling. After making sure there were no parasites, I have allowed some interaction between them. Cackle at least knows about other birds. He's just starting to get the idea of flying, so I'm now leaving his cage open during the day. Despite his curiousity, after watching a lot of footage of wild Great Tailed Grackle behavior, I've seen that they follow their mothers around for quite some time going on the length of tail that the fledgelings develop while still doing the gaping and squarking saying "FEED ME". I've observed this in the colony that nests here every year. One of the males I talk to is funny, he meows like the barn cat.

    Every year there is always several baby birds picked up, raised and released. My starling was declared unfit for release though he should have been too young to imprint. His parents and siblings were "Catted to death", going on the injuries, he fell from the barn loft as one leg was broken, one leg was mildly dislocated. He was found first trying to desperately beg food from my then 8 month old filly, and then crawled to my husband who brought him in and said "Can you save it?" I did, the little idgit has healed well, one foot will never work properly, he has trouble gripping with it. At a year old he's developed quite a vocabulary along with a huge range of birdsong he's imitated as he's by one of the kitchen windows for sun exposure during the day, a good view and able to see a large variety of other birds.

    Personally though, I LIKE Grackles. They keep down a lot of pests around our farm that I don't like including the nasty little crickets that used to eat the roots of the grass here. They are entertaining to watch, quite bold and fearless. I check the nesting colony regularly - most have opted for the huge level of pine trees that we have. Walking through them I'm usually trailed by boisterous males running around like fools on the ground singing at me. Knowing how aggressive they can be (The first Great Tail I met was in San Antonio and it HATED my mother in law and attacked her on sight along with cats, dogs and most other things at nesting time), I find it curious that like the other birds here, they're pretty laid back, perhaps because I feed them from time to time.

    As per usual, I've been overly verbose. My usual company is Arabian horses and the birds here, some of which follow me around. I do however need to feed the extremely fast growing screechbox who is trying to convince me that he is fading away to a starving shadow.
    I DO keep the state Wildlife Department updated on any birds I pick up, they don't care what I feed and prepare for release so long as it IS released. If I wasn't dealing with serious health issues, I'd be setting up as a licensed rehabber as there are none for rescue in my area. For now, I just keep those who need to know informed of what I have and progress reports. Next year, I start my training to get a falconry license. Now that I look forward to. I used to rehab raptors in Australia, I'd like to do it again.

     
  2. Freckles17

    Freckles17 Checking out the neighborhood

    Joined:
    8/6/17
    Messages:
    1
    Real Name:
    ALICE J NOLAN
    I am new to the Forum. Last April a baby grackle had fallen from it's nest to a lower branch and was quite unhappy and frightened. It was very young, beak all yellow....I put it in a canary cage with a little blanket for warmth, left the door open and left it for the night.....next day it was still there and hungry. I have dogs and worried it would fall out of the cage and that would be the end of it, so I brought it inside and hung the cage from the ceiling. Researched and saw that soaked cat food was good for them and so the rehab ensued! After a couple of weeks the weather warmed so I set up house for "Berta" in a rabbit cage, added a couple of grapevines for perching....and put it outside under the grape vines.....she was quite demanding every couple of hours wanting to be fed which my husband and I did with tweezers....I did not handle her except for an occasional finger pet on her chest.... but we enjoyed watching her grow. And she has! First of July she showed me she could take food from a dish on her own so I opened the cage and she flew out.....didn't see her for the rest of the day and nite. I was concerned ..... I called for her thruout the morning and about noon she appeared with wings fluttering as if to say....hi, I'm here...anything to eat? And that's how it is now. She's there first thing in the morning, mid morning, lunch, midafternoon and early evening....she knows her name as she comes when I call her. She "talks" to me and flutters her wings....besides her cat food she likes liverwurst, other meat, scrambled eggs, mealworms....and other tidbits I offer are always worth trying out. She doesn't want me touching her but seems quite happy to see me and I believe the fluttering of her wings is her greeting to me...there are no other Grackles around right now so not sure what she's going to do when the weather turns cold. Can I make her a shelter for winter? I'm in N AZ and it gets down below freezing in winter so I'm already thinking ahead for her! Any suggestions?
     
  3. timebomb

    timebomb Checking out the neighborhood

    Joined:
    6/27/17
    Messages:
    1
    Real Name:
    tim ryerson
    i rescued a 7 or so day old male grackle named Daffy started out as Daphne , june 3rd this year.it seemed to me that right from the start he knew i was trying to help him i cant believe how smart he is and how attached we have both become to him. he has total run of the house from the basement to the second floor. he is super easy to take care of. eats everything that my dogs do in fact he gets fed his main meals with the dogs sometimes he will eat out of the same bowls as them at the same time even. they have totally accepted each other it amazes me how well they get along. he loves watching critter shows with me and my one dog infact he will even attack the screen like the dog does. i have never cared or even paid any kind of attention or had anything to do with birds at all. but this little bugger has changed all that. i'll do this again in a heartbeat. im still definitly a dog guy but i found that there is always room for more creatures. by the way he only ever gets caged when he is being a total jackalope like a kid getting a timeout. oh and incase anyone is wondering i have checked out and have gotten permission to have him incase he stays with me if he wants. im not going stop him from leaving if he wants when his posse comes back this spring. he flew with them everyday all summer he would take off when they showed up in my yard to get him believe it or not,at about 10 am and he would go all day until sunset then come into the shop and hang out with me on my head or shoulder until i finished working . i hope if he does take off he will stay close. but to be perfectly honest i hope he will stay forever i could handle 20+years of extra craziness in my life. if he does stay with us then my next step will be to find a good vet that wouldnt mind working with wild birds in saskatchewan. any suggestions would be apprecited
     
  4. Familyof12

    Familyof12 Rollerblading along the road

    Joined:
    9/25/17
    Messages:
    1,362
    Location:
    Santa Clara, California
    Real Name:
    Liz
    I've never heard of these birds nor do I believe I've ever seen one! I've seen some black birds similar to this in the UK but not here on the Wes Coast of California or I'm just not paying attention. We usually have two hummingbirds year round and I believe this is now at least the fourth generation that is staying with us. We have rescued sparrows and I feed the crows every day at 2:00 and they know it. They like me very much. They don't like my husband. It cracks me up. But never a grackle. The larger birds seem to be jaybirds who have territories and we've had one who will eat out of my hands. He absolutely loves live mealworms which we give our ladies once a week in the summer and is gone during winter. The winter birds here I've seen are the crows, sparrows, and a larger brown bird and of course our pigeons.
     
    Mansion75 likes this.
  5. noelle

    noelle Checking out the neighborhood

    Joined:
    7/19/18
    Messages:
    1
    Real Name:
    noelle garce
    Hello !

    I am from Ontario Canada. I recently rescued a grackle, Henry. I have ample experience with starlings but not grackles.
    he seems to be thriving, and hes with us to stay as he imprinted. Does anyone know of a resource to learn more about them
     

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  6. Grackle Help

    Grackle Help Checking out the neighborhood

    Joined:
    7/20/18
    Messages:
    2
    Hey all, My son was just walking in the yard and a grackle fell out of the tree and landed in front of him. She is not able to move the left side of her body. My guess is a spinal cord injury. She is breathing well, blinking and able to use the right side of her body. I brought her in out of the heat. I know nothing about how to care for her. Any advice?!?!?
     
    SandraK likes this.
  7. SandraK

    SandraK Joyriding the Neighborhood Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran I Can't Stop Posting!

    Joined:
    3/21/11
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    20,808
    Location:
    NW Suburb of Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Real Name:
    Sandra
  8. Grackle Help

    Grackle Help Checking out the neighborhood

    Joined:
    7/20/18
    Messages:
    2
    The sweet grackle we found this morning is able to swallow. I dripped a little water down her closed beak with a medicine dropper, and it went in and she swallowed.(She is able to open her beak. When she first fell and was in the sun, she would open and close her beak, almost panting. Now that we have her resting inside where it is much cooler, she is keeping her beak closed.) How much water does a grackle drink per day? I am holding off on trying food, as she was just injured about 3 1/2 hours ago. When and what should I try feeding her. We have tons of bugs in our garden, lots of fruits, and bird seed on hand.
     
  9. Kylea

    Kylea Checking out the neighborhood

    Joined:
    10/7/18
    Messages:
    1
    Hi Im new here. Our grackle is still young. She is just getting her beautiful blue green feathers. She eats raw quail eggs a couple times a week to keep up her protein. Im curious on here if anyone else with grackles has ever fed theirs turkey liver and heart? I cook it up .For my cat and farrets and was curious if little Chirpy here will be okay with it? I see the wild ones eat discusting old chicken wings from dumpsters :/
     
    Last edited: 10/7/18

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