Great-tailed Grackles capture our attention this time of year

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The photos are all over social media, with comparisons never far behind to the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, "The Birds."

Yes, we're talking about the Great-tailed Grackle.

We've spotted them, as have you likely, in large groups around Houston. At this time of year, they seem to take over parking lots, and barely seem to budge when humans pass by.

ABC13 talked to University of Houston assistant professor Cameron Buckner, who studies bird behavior, and asked why they seem to gather in parking lots at this time of year. Migration is one possible answer, but not the only theory.
"One of the reasons they're so successful in expanding their range and why we see them so commonly in places where they're regarded as a nuisance, like near malls and shopping centers and so on, is that they're very successful at taking advantage of human food sources. They're omnivorous, they eat almost anything we eat," said Buckner. "So it could be that they're gathering in winter, because their other food sources have become more scarce."

We also asked, 'Are they dangerous?' The short answer is no, not any more than the average bird.

Those large groups look intimidating, but unless the birds are nesting, Buckner says they're unlikely to attack you.

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