Clouds of black birds with wingspans up to 2 feet swoop into Houston, Texas, every year in the Fall. Like swallows to Capistrano, the birds sometimes can be seen perched on every available tree limb. Unlike those gently graceful swallows, however, these are grackles, contentious, hostile birds who defend their springtime nests with aggressive fervor.
"They were just going crazy," said constable Wilbert Jue, who works at the building. "They were attacking everybody that walked by." ... On Monday a young grackle had fallen out of its nest and adult birds attacked people who got too close, Jue said... Grackles, along with many other types of birds, will go to great lengths to defend a young bird, especially one on the verge of flying, said Winnie Burkett, Houston Audubon Society sanctuary manager..
The birds, native to Mexico and South Texas, have spread to Houston in recent years. For the past several years, they have attacked people near the County Administration Building. "The great-tailed grackles making so much noise all over town now are birds we didn't have here 30 years ago," says Burkett. That surprises many Houston residents. Houston lies on the Central Flyway of bird migration. Birders from as far as Europe and Australia come in winter and spring, sometimes in search of birds quite common to Houston backyards, such as grackles.
My advice? If you've got business with Houston county this week, bring your umbrella.
And some Mace.