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Pictures Common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) pics and questions

Avian Adrienne

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Hi all. Below are some pictures of a common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) that I am currently rehabbing.

I live in central Kentucky, USA. Last week we had six inches of ice and snow on the ground, and a hailstorm was coming down. Some of the hail balls were dime-sized but I had a strong umbrella (thank God)!

I crossed the street and saw what I thought was a starling curled up in a snow bank on the sidewalk. It was bleeding, but because it was soaking wet I couldn't tell from where. I picked it up, cupped it to my chest, and walked it home. After I got it home, another foot of snow came down and we were under a state of emergency for several days. We're STILL at risk of severe flooding as all the snow and ice melts. It's miserable!

I called several rehabbers and vet clinics but none were open or able to come get the bird due to the extreme weather and state of emergency. I do not have a car. In the meantime, I did the best I could.

I realized the bird was bleeding from its mouth. Not a good sign, probably internal organ damage. I force fed it some soaked cat food and some lukewarm water (just a bit) and put it in a warm, covered, finch cage and hoped for the best.

The next morning, it was barely hanging on, but still alive. To be honest I expected at least one or two rehabbers to call me back. None did.

The next day the bird seemed to be different, more aware, "better." But still silent and unable to fly. I was more aggressive on the phone. I started a third round of emails and calls, and I got the following information:
  • Grackles are a native bird and are theoretically protected under the law, BUT in agricultural areas such as Kentucky, they are a pest species and are commonly shot and killed or poisoned on sight because they eat crops. One rehabber even told me how to kill the bird.
  • Several people said grackles are "low priority" and that they're "so common" that it is not economical or ethical to care for them when owls, hawks, and stuff are also needing resources.
  • Two people referred me to a hawk rehab center. I contacted them and they could not give me clear answers about what happens to non-hawks. A third rehabber who doesn't take grackles nonetheless told me that the hawk center FEEDS grackles (and starlings and pigeons and sparrows) to the hawks when re-training them to hunt. I understand that hawks have to eat, but no.
  • One lady said she'd take the bird and asked me to send her $200 but refused (or couldn't) to show me her license. She gave me bad vibes.
  • Exactly one vet clinic said they could evaluate the bird and possibly refer it to a rehab center. Then I got a call back and they said the rehab center actually doesn't take grackles. They asked if I was 100% sure it wasn't a blackbird (I wasn't) so I sent pics and the lady said it was indeed a grackle (little or no protection).
  • The Fish and Wildlife Service referred me to several rehabbers whom I'd already contacted (a circle jerk, basically). They also said they could take the bird but it would likely be euthanized because they're a pest species.
From all my conversations I've since deduced the following: the bird has been struck by hail and is now unable to fly, unable to squawk, and unable to stand on a perch. One of the vet techs said it could also have been a stroke to cause the same problems, but they seem neurological regardless. Since she is eating and drinking (but not making noise) the bleeding from the mouth was likely from hitting the ground (ie superficial). She is eerily tame and friendly to me.

This coming Friday (two weeks after finding it soaked and dying) I have plans to take the bird to another vet and see if they can help or tell me anything about it.

Here are pics:





I have limited experience with birds (all my supplies are from finches I had a few years ago) but NONE with rehabbing or grackles in particular.

I'll appreciate any feedback about keeping illegal-but-unwanted birds, grackle behavior, diet, or anything relating to symptomology. If anybody is in central Kentucky or southern Indiana and has ideas for rehabs that for sure take grackles, please also tell me! I'm doing the best I can to find this little gal (whom I've named Avian Adrienne) the proper help she needs!

Thank you!
 

Birdbabe

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Thank you for helping ! Grackles are omnivores and will eat bugs, worms, fruits and available seed, just about anything. You've done great so far, as long as the bird is improving daily, the poo looks good and is bright and alert then all the better. Some, but most vets won't see a "pest" bird like that, but, of your vet will, then get him checked if you have the means. You may have a new featherbutt in the house, or he may just say "thanks" and take off when fully recovered.:hug8:
 

Avian Adrienne

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Thank you. What happens if somebody actually keeps an illegal pest bird? Do people really go to jail? My first worry is for this little bird but I definitely don't want to go to jail for helping it.

I couldn't believe when one of the rehabbers told me how to kill it like that was the most natural thing to do. I literally was silent, in shock.
 

Avian Adrienne

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Is it normal for a bird to sleep in the middle of the day? She curls up and sleeps sometimes and I always assume she's sick. Also, her poop looks like wild bird poop (white with colors). That's the only way I know how to describe it. At first she didn't poop for a whole day so I thought she'd die. I wonder if the 2+ weeks of constant snow cover starved her. She weighed almost nothing, even though she was soaking wet. :(
 

SandraK

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They don't weigh much to begin with, and yes birds do nap in the middle of the day. It sounds like you're doing a good job with your grackle.
 

Yoyo'sMom

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You're doing a good job with this bird. Since they're low priority in your area I wouldn't worry about any negative consequences. The fact that this bird is so tame makes me think it's fairly sick or was rehabbed before. I love grackles they're so smart. Thanks for seeing that it needed some help.
 

leafhopper

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Grackles can give so much to people spiritually. You will be -if not already are - rewarded by the bird, I cannot describe how much! If she will not be able to recover her flight completely, but would be able to live in your home, you should be able to get a permit eventually to be able to keep the injured bird legally ("injured" would be the legal definition). The owner of Leroy Grackle from this website had had experience getting the permit. Let us hope for her complete recovery so that you can safely release her.
 

leafhopper

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I would not take her to a vet. A vet will not do a surgery anyway, but may put the bird to sleep for x-ray and other diagnostics and this may kill her. Medication would not help much or even may do some harm. I would continue caring for her for a couple of weeks or so till the flight gets fully regained before releasing the bird. Please keep us posted.
 
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jmfleish

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I just want to say thank you for helping this bird and to say that he's precious! I hope that everything works out and that he can be returned to the wild but if he cannot, I agree with what others have said and that it shouldn't be hard to get a permit to keen him! More pictures please!:)
 

Shyra

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From someone's who's been there... Most vets won't help with a grackle because they are illegal to own or even help without a license. I'm pretty sure that even vets have to be certified in some way to deal with wild animals or risk losing their license. Or maybe my dog vet just implies that so she doesn't have to. If the wrong person knows you have a grackle and turns you in you can be fined for it and they can take the bird away. I'm paranoid by nature, but when you've been on these groups long enough you hear about things happening to other people. Instead of grackle tell people you have a "starling". They are not federally protected though check with your state fish and wildlife dept to be sure they are legal to own for KY. (should be able to find the info online.) Still won't be able to take him to the vet or post pictures but will help keep you out of trouble.

There is a site called starling talk Starling Talk: The Care and Feeding of Injured and Orphaned Starlings that has a lot of good information about diet and care on it. Starlings and grackles have similar needs. Good luck. I hope he pulls through.
 

Avian Adrienne

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Thank you all. It looks like one lady in Indiana (fifteen minutes away) is going to be able to come get her. I have been so disappointed with the lack of viable resources so far that I am almost hesitant to say it until she gets here!

But this bird still cannot make noises, stand on a perches, or fly. She CAN stand on a low perch with one leg. I tossed her onto the couch again and she just went plop. However I had her out "foraging" in my living room yesterday and she tried to fly but careened into the wall! It looked so unnatural and nearly gave me a heart attack but she seems fine. I'm afraid to let her out now. Lol
 
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Avian Adrienne

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Grackles can give so much to people spiritually. You will be -if not already are - rewarded by the bird, I cannot describe how much! If she will not be able to recover her flight completely, but would be able to live in your home, you should be able to get a permit eventually to be able to keep the injured bird legally ("injured" would be the legal definition). The owner of Leroy Grackle from this website had had experience getting the permit. Let us hope for her complete recovery so that you can safely release her.
Yes! I already HAVE gained spiritually from this bird. I never expected it and still it feels strange but beautiful. She has a strange and powerful story to tell.
 

Avian Adrienne

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Initially I thought I would keep her until a rehabber came in 2-3 days and got her, or she died. I did not know the stigma/disfavor/legal status of these birds. She was soaked and bleeding so even if I did know I might have done the same.

But at this point I just want what's best for her, and the VERY best thing is to go to a licensed wildlife rehabber who is familiar with assessing and treating birds and who likes/accepts/rehabs grackles. That's what I'm still aiming for.
 

Bokkapooh

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Just make sure the you see the license before handing her over. Many people are bad people and will take free animals for use as bait animals or feeder animals to reptiles. Just take care. :)
 

Avian Adrienne

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Just make sure the you see the license before handing her over. Many people are bad people and will take free animals for use as bait animals or feeder animals to reptiles. Just take care. :)
I already discovered that. One place uses them as bait for raptors and another lady wanted $200 and refused to show me her license.
 
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