People who liked songbirds that nested around homes and built nests among the branches of trees or bushes, and on ledges around buildings. Birds such as robins and mourning doves disliked grackles as much as farmers. Grackles will raid the nests of other birds and eat both eggs and small nestlings.
The author of the article about grackles in “Birds of America,” which was first published in 1917, was obviously one of those people who don’t like grackles. He described a grackle as having “skulking manner” and “cold and cruel yellow eyes.” Further, he wrote, the grackle is “a good deal of a villain in bird-land.” He described the grackle’s song as “a sort of asthmatic squeak, which suggests the protest of a rusty hinge.”
Grackles, however, eat many things, not just corn and the eggs and nestlings of smaller birds. They eat other grain. They eat fruit. They eat many insects. They seem to particularly like grub-worms, and a small flock will often follow a tractor and plow, landing behind the plow and picking up grubworms and other insect larvae that are exposed by the turning of the soil.
They eat snails and crawfish, salamanders and even mice and small fish, catching the fish by standing on the shore or wading in very shallow water.
Grackles, in spite of the description of their song as like “the protest of a rusty hinge,” are classified as songbirds, with robins and song sparrows. As songbirds, they are protected by federal law, just as robins and song sparrows are. So, like ‘em or not, as I’m leaving the grackle that is currently feeding with the red-winged blackbirds at my feeder.