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Austin and the grackles: some great moments

Sharon Chapman

And now for some great moments in Austin grackle history:

My grackle, my hero. When we put out a call for all things grackle, reader Brady Coleman sent in one of our favorites, something he calls “Grackle Karma”: Thirty odd years ago, I finished my bracing swim at Deep Eddy Pool, laid down under an aging pecan tree and promptly fell asleep. Soon I was awakened by a “splat” on my chest – a grackle relieving itself. I rose and proceeded to the outdoor shower to wash off and suddenly heard a loud crash. A very large rotting limb had fallen from the pecan tree and was lying on my towel. The grackle may have saved my life — or prevented serious injury. Let’s hear it for the grackles!

That grackle eating a pizza crust. This bird gave us life when we needed it most, as chronicled by our own Gabrielle Muñoz, who crafted a pep talk for the last day of SXSW 2018 and, really, for the ages: It’s Day 9 of the South by Southwest Festival in Austin. For more than a week you’ve been out on the town looking for parties and celebrities and possibly stalking Bill Murray. You’re dehydrated and sunburned and regretting your decision to wear fashionable footwear even though we begged you to wear comfortable shoes. Are you going to make it to the finish line?

Of course you are! If this grackle – spotted having a pizza snack outside Stubb’s during Rachael Ray’s Feedback Party – can push through the final weekend of SXSW, so can you. You’ve reached the metaphorical crust of the festival.

Grab some water. Find an awesome show for tonight. Be like the grackle.


Check out that “clock.” One feature stood tall — 37 feet tall — among the many gorgeous elements at the new Central Library when it opened last year in downtown Austin. Here’s some of the official description of “Caw” by artist Christian Moeller, from the library’s website: “(It’s a) kinetic sculpture resembling a gigantic cuckoo clock overtaken by blackbirds. It is accompanied by an LED screen on the fifth level of the library, which features an artist-created mystical black bird set within a Texas landscape. … The artwork is inspired by Austin’s Grackle population and, since the artwork was created for a library, by the strong presence that black birds occupy in literature and mythology. … The art piece contributes a strangely domestic element to the overall ambience of the Central Library, like a fireplace or an aquarium would. The artist hopes that it will be something we won’t tire of looking at, an object of character that grows on us and becomes a friendly companion during our hours of contemplation and thought.”

We’d say that last bit’s already happened with the piece, which quickly became affectionately known as “The Grackle Clock.”

Jared Leto and the Grackle. Fans got a mini-concert and plenty of selfies when Leto popped up on South Congress to promote new music from his band Thirty Seconds to Mars in April. Leto left with a little lesson in nature, and we hope an idea for a future duet.

The scene: During a pause between songs, a powerful call is heard from above.

Leto: “What the @#$& was that?”

An Austinite: “A grackle.”

Leto: “A what?”

The crowd: “A GRACKLE!”

Leto: “A grackle? I didn’t know we were in the jungle.”

The end.

Thirty Minutes at Jo’s: Jared Leto rewards a SoCo throng with two songs, free tickets

Residents of Austin have a complex relationship with great-tail grackles, which are known to flock grocery stores, restaurants and parking lots in large numbers.