Grackles are intimidating birds, there’s no denying it. With their dagger beaks, sinister strut, and evil yellow glare, they often seem as if they’d as soon kill a body as look at him. The grackles in Texas seem especially threatening. At the risk of anthropomorphizing avifauna, I’d say that the Lone Star birds bear malice in their hearts. This sometimes leads to tense standoffs in public parks, but open violence hasn’t broken out a large scale…until now.

The Associated Press reports that grackles are openly attacking people in Houston. Presumably these are Great-tailed Grackles, though they could be the smaller Common Grackles. Though the avian aggression seems to be associated with protection of offspring, I wonder if it isn’t at least partially motivated by politics. After so many assaults on the environment by a Texan, the environment was bound to respond in kind.

HOUSTON – Like a scene from the horror movie “The Birds,” large black grackles are swooping down on downtown Houston and attacking people’s heads, hair and backs. Authorities closed off a sidewalk after the aggressive birds, which can have 2-foot wingspans, flew out of magnolia trees Monday in front of the County Administration Building.

“They were just going crazy,” said constable Wilbert Jue, who works at the building. “They were attacking everybody that walked by.”

The grackles zeroed in on a lawyer who shooed a bird away before he tripped and injured his face, Jue said. The lawyer was treated for several cuts. It appears that the birds are protecting their offspring. On Monday a young grackle had fallen out of its nest and adult birds attacked people who got too close, Jue said. Another bird attacked a deputy county clerk.

“I hit him with a bottle,” said Sylvia Velasquez. “The other birds came, and one attacked my blouse and on my back.”

Two women came to help her after she fell to the ground, and the birds attacked them as well. The group escaped by running into the building.

“This is a very Hitchcock kind of story. Very Tippi Hedren,” said downtown worker Laura Aranda Smith, referring to one of the stars of Alfred Hitchcock’s move “The Birds.”

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.