Whether you have a bird feeder or not, you’ve probably seen grackles poking around your yard, looking for food. Have you ever wondered what they are looking for? What do grackles eat, exactly? What are their favorite foods, and are there any foods that they will not eat? Keep reading! In this article, we’ll answer these questions and more.
What You'll Learn Today
What is the Common Grackle’s Favorite Food?
Grackles are known for having an extensive diet. They really aren’t picky about the foods they eat.
But do they have a favorite food? Is there any particular food or food group they like more than others?
While it isn’t clear exactly which foods grackles most prefer, insects seem to be pretty near the top of the list. Grackles eat all types of insects, from flies to grubs to beetles to centipedes.
Grackles can often be seen eating together in groups, foraging the tasty bugs from the ground. Insects are the food of choice during nesting season and make up the majority of their diet throughout the year except during winter.
If they can’t get enough insects, or if they have access for an easy meal of some other type, they will usually take advantage of whatever opportunity presents itself. Grackles are smart and can be quite creative when it comes to finding food.
They sometimes eat crayfish along with small fish and frogs in wetland areas. They will snatch them out of the water or off the bank, and sometimes they’ll even creep close to turtles to pick leeches off their legs.
They may also eat lizards and small rodents such as mice and young rats. Sometimes they will even eat small birds of other species.
In addition, grackles sometimes eat eggs of other birds which they steal from the nest. They may also eat the remains of eggs and babies that have fallen out of the nest.
Grackles don’t just eat insects and animals though. They also eat plant matter such as grass and weeds, seeds, berries, and grain, often congregating around backyard feeders.
Despite their preference for insects and other animal foods, grackles eat a fair amount of plant foods as well, especially during the winter. In fact, seeds and grains may make up the majority of their diet in the winter.
What Do Baby Grackles Eat?
Baby grackles eat mostly insects brought to them by their parents. They may also receive small amounts of plant matter such as seeds and grain, as this is an important part of their diet.
Both parents feed the nestlings, and between the two of them they may feed their babies about 6 times per hour.
Sometimes the parents will continue to feed young grackles after they have fledged from the nest, as shown briefly in the following video.
What Foods Will Grackles Not Eat?
According to Texas A&M’s Breeding Bird Atlas, common grackles are omnivorous and opportunistic eaters. As you can probably tell from the list above, there is very little they will not eat.
Of course, they do not eat larger animals, snakes, scorpions, and other creatures that pose a threat to them. They are birds of prey, but their prey is on the smaller side.
What Are Grackles Eating on My Lawn?
Have you ever seen a large congregation of shimmery blue-black grackles hanging out in your yard, pecking at your lawn? What are they doing there?
Chances are, the grackles are probably foraging for insects. As noted above, they do most of their eating on the ground, as that’s where they are most likely to find a variety of insects.
In addition to bugs and spiders, they may even eat earthworms which they steal from robins. They will eat caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, spiders, and many other bugs and insects.
If they’re hanging out on your lawn, they may also be searching for seeds or other bits of plant matter in the dirt. Especially if you have a bird feeder, they may be gathering up bits of the feed that falls to the ground underneath it.
Grackles are opportunistic omnivores. This basically means that they will eat lots of different foods–whatever they can find in a given time and place.
Though their favorite food seems to be insects which they forage from the ground, grackles also eat seeds, berries, grain, small animals and birds, and even the eggs of other birds.