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Nature & You: Are wild birds facing parking lot starvation?

A grackle can often be spotted in store parking lots, but what might be attracting these birds? [Photo by Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman]
A grackle can often be spotted in store parking lots, but what might be attracting these birds? [Photo by Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman]

Imagine, for a minute, that you are a wild bird. Where would you choose to live? 

Someplace with trees, I'd venture to guess. Maybe a suburban home's backyard where they keep the birdfeeders stocked with delectable wild bird seeds.

So, answer me this: Why in the world do grackles — those long-tailed black birds — hang out in the huge asphalt parking lots that are adjacent to the big box stores? You've got to wonder what is there for a wild bird to eat.

It is time for you to embark on some serious scientific inquiry. The next time you go to the store, pay particular attention to where — exactly — you see those black birds. Is it at the front of the vehicle, the part that is facing forward when it goes racing down the street?

The answer to this scientific query is this: The long-tailed black birds use the vehicles as food-gathering tools. There is really no need for them to venture out into the countryside in search of bugs; what with the front portion of the vehicles all plastered with smashed insects.

Come to think of it, it is a pretty ingenious way for the wild birds to make a living. Urban Oklahoma can be a dandy place for wild birds to live.

Neil Garrison

Neil Garrison is an outdoor nature enthusiast. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; he earned a B.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology. Prior to his 2009 retirement, he was the Naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center for 30... Read more ›

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