For the Birds Radio Program: David Morrison's Grackle Story

Original Air Date: Jan. 25, 2001 (estimated date) Rerun Dates: Jan. 25, 2007; Dec. 29, 2003

KAXE listener David Morrison told an interesting and heartwarming story about a baby grackle he’d raised, and how he knew it had become truly wild.

Duration: 3′16″


Every now and then I ask listeners to send me stories about birds in their lives, and recently KAXE listener David Morrison sent me a fascinating account of a nestling baby grackle he found a few years ago. He writes:

I assume she only jumped the nest after being left behind for a few days. By that time all her mates were flying, and this poor bird only had a few feathers. I could hardly allow her to just wither away, so I adopted her and made a very nice and large cage for her, and went through the routine of feedings every 4 hours. I kept her outside under a large tree so she could see the other birds and feel a part of nature. I live in the woods and feed a lot of birds, so there was no end of other birds to look at, and I hoped that she would pick up natural traits from watching them. As fall approached I wasn’t sure what to do with her. I left her loose in my studio half the day so she could fly about as best she could, but she didn’t seem a strong flier and I was reluctant to let her go just so she could die in the wilderness after all my rearing.

I was resigned to keeping her as a studio pet at least for that winter until one late fall day I came home to find another grackle sitting atop her cage outside. It flew off as I pulled up. That happened three days in a row and ‘doodle bird’, as I called her, would be most excited about this new friend. On the fourth day there were about 200 grackles in a nearby oak, and the new friend atop her cage. I could tell by her actions that she really wanted to leave. So I turned her loose thinking that if she wasn’t ready to leave she would either stay around or I could catch her.

Her flying was not the best at first, she went tree to tree. But before long she was up in that giant oak with the others. They hung around for a few days, and she would stop by when she saw me, clucking at me and then fly off. It was really an emotional thing for some reason. I felt good to have helped, even if it was just a grackle, though I’ve always liked them.

To my surprise the following spring, quite early in fact, I was alerted to a tree by a familiar clucking. Doodle bird had returned home about two weeks ahead of the other grackles and black birds. While she wouldn’t let me handle her, she would sit at the deck where we spent a lot of time watching other birds, and would answer every cluck I offered her. She came back three years in a row just as early, and warmed my heart each time. I do admit that while this was a happy success story, I’ve had several that weren’t. It’s a hard thing lo do, gelling a wild bird to know it’s wild.

That was David Morrison’s grackle story. If you have an interesting bird story to share with our listeners, send it to [OBSOLETE EMAIL].