Brewer’s blackbird (Nov. 12)

Euphagus cyanocephalus

Those shiny, black birds with golden eyes may not be grackles. They could be Brewer’s blackbirds, one of four species from the blackbird family to call Kansas home. They’re smaller than grackles, about 10 inches long.

More so than any blackbird, Brewer’s are pretty comfortable around people. They’re also fond of farm yards where they’ll compete with chickens and other domestic fowl for food tossed out by farmers. They also like to spend time around feedlots and get grain that’s supposed to go to cattle.

Brewer’s are most common in Kansas in the fall and winter, when they migrate down from northern prairies. They prefer open areas, mostly in western and central Kansas.

It’s not uncommon for there to be Brewer’s blackbirds amid the huge flocks or starlings, red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds that drift like smoke across the sky.