As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday 29 November 2012

'Devil birds' moving in at Lake Merced

A gang of cantankerous flying aliens known to some avian aficionados as "devil birds" have been spotted flitting around San Francisco's Lake Merced acting like they belong.

The crow-sized creatures, which ornithologists know as great-tailed grackles, are native to Latin America and the southern United States, but the aggressive birds have recently been moving west, gobbling up the eggs of other birds and threatening to make a nuisance of themselves.

As many as six males and two females have been seen at Lake Merced, the largest concentration of the species ever recorded in San Francisco, according to the experts.

"They are often vilified as devil birds," said David Cruz, a local photographer and founder of Natures Lantern, a local nature photo and video sharing site. "It is a unique bird that many San Francisco residents have yet to see."

The birds, known scientifically as Quiscalus mexicanus, have in recent decades expanded their range from Texas and parts south of there to Northern California, most likely because of human-caused changes in their habitat. The first sighting in California was along the Colorado River in 1964. The birds have since colonized much of urban Southern California and parts of the San Joaquin Valley.

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