Ask Lafeber


March 29, 2019

Bird got hurt

I was outside in my backyard with my dog Rocky who’s meant to be a hunting do (we don’t hunt though) a few minutes later I see this black bird with a purple head and bright yellow eyes searing my dog in the face. He then started to chase after the poor guy as it tried to run, what confused my though was it wasn’t trying to fly away. Anyways, my dog catches the bird and starts biting it and growling. I pushed him off and put him back inside. I went back outside to check on the bird to see it’s still there, I think it was trying to play dead. I picked it up, the bird was breathing fast and looking around panicked with it’s mouth wide open. I tried to look for and cuts but surprisingly it wasn’t bleeding but it had a indent on it’s wing feathers and I still don’t know if that’s why it didn’t fly away. I walked around a bit not knowing what to do when it jumped out of my hands and went under my patio and is still there. I looked it up and I think it’s a Florida Grackle. But what confused me even more is that they’re known for being loud but it didn’t make a peep, they’re also known for traveling in groups but this one was alone as far as I know. It should at least have a mate because I live in their breeding grounds. My question is what do you think happened to it and what should I do?


Hi Cait,

Grackles are extremely intelligent birds. I specialized in working with them when I was a wildlife rehabilitator. Right now the males are probably vying for females and this can involve a lot of displaying and vocalizing. I’ve really never seen fights between the males but this may happen. This guy may have already been injured in some way, which is why he was on the ground and alone. If your dog is a retriever, they have a soft mouth so he may not have hurt the bird. I have seen flightless grackles who survive in the wild. They are fast runners. If this guy sticks around and you are able to catch him – and good luck with that – then you should take him to a wildlife rehabilitation center. I don’t know where in Florida you are, but you can try contacting the C.R.O.W. Clinic.  Even if they are not in your area, they may know of a center near you. If you don’t see this bird again, he likely was OK and has moved on.

As far as the vocalizing goes, this is something they do while courting mates. When captured, a hard stare with the open mouth is common – he is trying to intimidate you. They rarely make a sound while being handled – they tend to observe and try to figure out how to get out of the situation.

Good luck – hopefully he recovered and moved on.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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