We put out the "caw" and were answered with plenty of grackle stories and poems.

We also got an inspired message from reader Bill Carr, who says: "In honor of Grackle Week, I have a new word for you. GRACKOPHONY: the sound of hundreds of great-tailed grackles congregating in an H-E-B parking lot. Not accidentally, it rhymes with cacophony."

Here are more selections from readers, starting with a sweet story:

Grackles and mom

Caring for my mom as she descended further into her private world, I discovered that watching the grackles flock to Highland Mall and/or other favorite locales would keep her entertained. Fascinated. So five or six evenings per week we would take a ride, park in a parking lot and watch the grackles gather. This half-hour to an hour of watching the joy on her face was a gift to me. My boredom turned to a contemplation of the miracles available in nature. Thereafter when friends or relatives from far away came to visit us in Austin, grackle gathering-watching became a highlight. The event amazed my tourists and led to their bird stories, natural wonder sharing. Yes, other species share this behavior. The grackles are our own natural dance.

— MJ Hickerson

A Grackle’s Day In Four Haikus:

The Morning Artist

Blanton Parking Lot

Master of Pointillismus

White Dots on Black Hoods.

The Lunch Thief

Cocky and Cockeyed

Careless Foodie’s Challenger

Scrap Jousting’s Black Knight

The Connoisseur

Strutting by Curb’s Edge

Martini Olive Dandy

Sixth Street Happy Hour

The Fearmonger

Ash Trees at Sundown

Alive With Shrieks of Terror

Devil’s Nightly Roost

— Stephen Rodi

"Grackle vs. Dog"

Hate those darn grackles!

Steal food from the dog’s food bowl.

Bathe in her water.

— Tita Gonzalez

Grackles eat pizza at Central Market on North Lamar Boulevard in May. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

American-Statesman staff

Central Market chronicles

Two stories from a favorite grackle hangout:

I had found a corner seat for lunch with a narrow window view at Central Market South. Settling in with my tortilla soup, I was suddenly riveted by the sight of something so rare and beautiful, and unlikely—- a pale green luna moth, fluttering against the pane! It was as exotic as any wild jungle sighting could be, a pure and lovely thing, taking my breath away by its presence.

A sudden snap of black wings, sharp beak and beady eye and it was gone.

— Deborah Poisot

My favorite encounter with grackles shows just how intelligent they are. A few years ago I was having a meal outside at Central Market on North Lamar, probably one of the largest concentrations of grackles in Austin. A grackle swooped down to the picnic table next to me and picked up an unopened packet of ketchup. He flew with it up into one of the large oak trees, laid it down on a large branch, and pecked it until he could get to the ketchup. He took several slurps of the ketchup and flew on. A couple of grackles lined up behind him finished the dregs and the empty packet fell to the ground. Amazing that they knew something good was in that packet!

— Bob Harwood

RELATED: Can grackles live on french fries and chips alone?

Grackle haiku

Sword beaks pierce blue sky

Shrill iridescent preening

Trees fly pirate flags

— Deborah Poisot

Grackle poem

Frickle, Frackle

There goes another Grackle,

Doing his mating, puffy dance

He must throw all the females in a crazy trance.

Hearing the Grackle symphony at H-E-B in the afternoon

It’s almost as good as hearing ol’ Blue Eyes croon

So here’s to the Grackle and all of its fame.

Thank God for Grackles, my, my, now that’s a shame.

— Ryan Tooney

Gavin DeCrackle

Growing up near the museum district in Houston, I was more than aware of Grackles. They had a reputation of being noisy, messy and fraternal birds. When a male grackle showed up in our Austin back yard one day, I wondered, "Where are your hundred friends"?

We have six ducks that are allowed free range of the back yard during the day. They are fed duck food, songbird seed and lettuce. The bird seed is also popular with the neighborhood sparrows, cardinals and morning doves. Nature dictates who eats first, second, third, etc. The ducks feast first, and then the grackle upset the doves and now eats second. Then the doves, leaving the sparrows to finish off the offerings.

After a couple of weeks we decided to name the grackle "Gavin DeGrackle" after the artist Gavin McGraw. We also have names for all six ducks. Gavin likes to visit the birdbath several times a day and has gotten used to us and the dogs being in the backyard, tending to the garden, drying clothes on the line, etc. I had a talk with him one day and said he was welcome as long as he didn’t tell his friends about our sanctuary. And, for the most part, Gavin has kept his end of the bargain.

I enjoy listening to his many different vocalizations from the back porch, and he is now a true part of the backyard menagerie.

— Anthony Watson

WATCH ‘BAD BIRDS’: Austinites have a complicated relationship with grackles

A familiar scene: Grackles gather in a flock (officially known as a "plague") at an H-E-B. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

American-Statesman staff

Grackles are like home

I realized after I left the Austin area for college how much I love grackles. I missed them. I missed hearing them, seeing them and being irritated by them at Central Market. You see, if you have been brought up in Austin, grackles are the creatures that have been a part of your life more than you think and more than you probably have wanted. I appreciate them so much more when I visit home now. I guess I was brought up in a family of Central Market-goers, but I feel truly at home when I see my favorite bird chilling outside of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

When I was the most homesick, I started writing about why I missed home. Because of my love for grocery shopping, the thought of grackles popped up when I recalled all the days I plodded into Whole Foods, Central Market, Costco, etc., with my family. Suddenly, I realized that those little evil animals had not only invaded all my dearest grocery stores, they had ambushed my whole life without me realizing it. At first I was shocked; I felt like I had been outsmarted or something. But then I found that my hatred for them developed into a deep love and appreciation because they are so entwined in Austin life. I can think of every landmark in Austin that has meaning to me and imagine it hearing their cute little readle-eak. Goodness, grackles have stolen my food, and my heart.

— Hallie Rose Hudson

Inspired words

James Brush of Austin has written a book of grackle-inspired prose called "Birds Nobody Loves: A Book of Vultures & Grackles" (check out his website and more writings at coyotemercury.com; also available in Kindle and paperback editions on Amazon.). Here’s one of the pieces from his book:

"The Grackle Tree"

After a few days under the grackle tree, the blue sedan began to develop a white pox, which spread with each passing night. The automedics shook their heads in grim certainty, fully aware of the limits of their training and skill. Eventually, it was decided that the problem was environmental, and men with shotguns came and took determined aim into the trees before firing blanks into the upper boughs. Sometimes the grackles would scatter at the sound, flying off to local birdbaths where they would clean up before returning to their usual roost. The men, satisfied, moved down the street where they would take shots at the starling tree, pigeon tree, and a supposed second grackle tree that legend had it was located somewhere south of 16th Street. Despite the diligence of the men, the grackles always returned, and the slow infection of the blue sedan continued. After a month, no one remembered what color the car had been, and no one ever discussed its owners or what became of them.

*

grackle tree

boughs shake and chatter

at the cars

This photo of a majestic bird is by reader Kirsten Niedzwecki of Austin, who says: "While I often chase the grackles from my yard, this large male stood as a sentinel in my oak tree fiercely protecting a nest full of fledglings in the neighbor’s yard. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are, indeed, a part of the fabric of Austin."

American-Statesman staff

Grackles in Austin — three haiku

A cat prowls near trees

A dark umbrella descends

Grackles guard their nests

***

A challenge to all

The topmost limb is his perch

The grackle calls out

***

Flocking to big oaks

Turning leaves to inky waves

Grackles invade peace

— David McClintic

A grackle haiku

Shiny black grackles

Strutting, loud, prideful bullies

Their smell? Offensive!

— James Moore

Two for the Grackles

Female grackles follow

In my wake, as I

Mow my lawn.

Cleverly finding food

While the males

Strut and cackle.

***

Grackles strut and preen

With their iridescent sheen

And their call is like a scream

From a mechanical machine.

— Ruth Baker

When shopping

Shopping in Austin,

a parking space spied. O Joy!

Kindly alert guests.

— Dayle Rohe

GRACKLES AND MUSIC: The secret history of Kevin Russell’s early-’90s band

Grackle Welcome, 1972

I’m walking through campus

On a job-hunting spree

Bright sunshine, blue sky,

Birds in every tree:

Noisy, black, self-satisfied,

That we-were-here-first look—

Well, what are they anyway?

Raven, blackbird, rook?

Forty-six years later

(Give or take a year),

I’m now gray, they’re still black,

And we’re both still here.

— Jean Wyllys, 2018

A grackle perches on a light pole in the Austin American-Statesman parking lot in May. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

American-Statesman staff

A grackle limerick

Grackles are the last thing I need in my life

I already have enough trouble and strife

Grackles are up to no good

They poop on your hood

They’re inedible thus immune to the carving knife

— Dick Martin

A Taco, a Grackle

A hot late-morning at a taco joint, outside bar

with the overhead fans churning a warm breeze.

I eyed my egg and bacon tortilla

with the lust of one needing a Sunday respite

from the Saturday night before. But a rustle behind

turned my head for oh that proverbial split second

and, on turning back around, it was gone.

And there she sat. Far end of the bar, a glisten

on her bronze-black skin, I swear a smirk on her face.

With great glee, it seemed, the grackle enjoyed

a piece of plump soft egg and a crispy morsel

of smoky bacon. Mine no longer, but hers. And she —

so wild, yet urban. So majestic, yet a clown

in bird’s feathers.

— Pamela Steed Hill

Grackle haiku

A cup of kava

At formerly Flipnotics

Grackles on hillside

— JP English

Who are grackles?

Ravens work as watchmen of our woodlands;

Buzzards, roadside janitors, underpaid.

Mockingbirds are tireless entertainers;

But grackles? Noisy guests who’ve overstayed.

— Lonnie Dillard

Grackle

From his perch up above came a cackle

The author, a pestilent grackle

No doubt celebrating

His job decorating

My car just below with his spackle!

— Doug Taylor

A grackle looks for food in a trashcan at Cherrywood Coffeehouse. Grackles could probably live on french fries, pizza crust and chips, University of Texas biology professor and longtime birder Peter English says. But it’s not because they are couch potatoes. "They aren’t lazy," English says. "They work really hard, but they take food that’s the easiest, but so do you. Every living thing takes the easiest route." JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

American-Statesman staff

Eight more haiku

Cheeto held proudly

In its beak as the grackle

Shows off its bounty

***

He sees a female

Feathers fluff excitedly

Broken fan belt noise

***

In downtown Austin

The Birds movie is showing

And we are in it

***

He opens his beak

A broken washing machine

Is his song for you

***

You had a red car

Now it is white all over

Under grackle trees

***

She found a french fry

In her beak like a cigar

She shows it to me

***

Black cloud in the sky

Notes on a telephone wire

Constant screeching sounds

***

It was your breakfast

Snatched by a hissing black thief

Grackle snarfs muffin

— Amie Rodnick

EVERYTHING GRACKLE WEEK