The grackles are back, and I am very, very happy. They’re my favorite birds. And it’s fun to say their name, though not quite as fun as it is to say “scrod” or “axolotl.”

We’ve got a hot tub in our back yard and I do most of my reading while sitting in it, pretty much year round. (As long as the air temperature’s above about 25 degrees, anyway, and the wind isn’t blowing too hard). We also have spectacular gardens (courtesy Marcia’s magical green thumb), and a long, dense row of arborvitae that just crawl with birds during the spring, summer and fall months.

I’m always pleased when the robins begin to turn up, and it’s always a treat to see the first goldfinch or cardinal of the season show up. In the winter, I enjoy the crows and blue jays that slug it out up here, but for pure bird watching satisfaction, I enjoy nothing more than the grackles that (lucky me!) set up their homes in our back yard year after year after year.

Grackles have got style, pizzaz and serious attitude. Look at them from one angle, and they are shiny and black . . . but then they turn to hit the sunlight just the right way, and, presto, radiant irridescent purples and blues. Grackles don’t hop tentatively around the yard like robins do. When they are on the ground, they stomp from place to place, confident, serious, businesslike. They are very territorial, and will let you know loudly and emphatically if you happen to venture too close to their corner of the yard. They are cranky and intolerant, and I love them for it.

As I sat outside this afternoon, I saw concentrated grackle activity that indicates at least two nests being constructed, with a possible third. There were a lot of males out there, puffing up their feathers and doing their best “hey baby hey baby hey baby” moves to impress their tough-to-please intended beloveds, then yelling at each other and jockeying for prime position in the trees so as to best get their mojos on.

In a couple of weeks, if not sooner, there will be two (or three) nesting pairs out there, each in their own corner of the yard, lords and ladies of all that they survey. I will sit in the hot tub in the center of yard, making no sudden movements, glad that they let me use part of their turf without (much) complaint.

It will be excellent, only getting better when the slime molds return in June or so. I can’t wait.

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