Project Chekov: Quiscalus

Quiscalus, oh where art thou Quiscula?  I’ll tell you where it is.. sitting right there on that der braunch staring at the wild blue yonder.

Okay, okay, to be honest, we are technically looking at a Quiscalus Quiscalu… and why are we looking at a Quiscalus Quiscalu?  Well, for a couple of reasons.  First off all, my Quail pictures “were found wanting”.  Turns out a set of Quails that I was planning on featuring were moving a little to fast for my settings.  Then my fall back set of Quails turned out too grainy thanks to taking them in questionable light.  Thank god I had a few Quiscalas laying around.  Okay, so I’ve gamed the system a tad, but you go with what you have and this is ALL I have at the moment – just for foreshadowing purposes, this will happen again.

So, I’ll stop being all scientific on you.  Quiscalus Quiscalu is the scientific name for the Common Grackle.  It does give them a little more air of importance.  This is good because when I see a Common Grackle I get extremely annoyed – basically I rank them in the category of outright nuisance.  They tend to congregate into flocks and proceed to make such a racket they’ll give you a headache.  To top it off they’ll basically push over any other smaller birds in the area that get in the way of their foraging.  Bad Grackle, very very baaaad Grackle.   Now the Grackle has appeared on the blog previously (link here).  If you go to that link you may pick up on the fact that this set might be from the exact same shoot as that previously featured Grackle.  Desperate times call for …. shopping!  There are actually different frames so I didn’t cheat you there, but I decided to try out some quick shopping – I openly admit that I do standard improvements on my shots but that generally equates to fixing some exposure issues, touching up some small blemishes and compensating for noise when lighting conditions were less than ideal.  What I generally do not do is alter it dramatically – not because I can’t, but just because it seems a little shady.  Whenever I do something a little more than the standard digital darkroom I’ll be sure and let you know – don’t want to lose your trust like some devious photojournalists over the years.  Now, this is not my best work by any means, but we recently upgraded to Photoshop CS6 and wanted get some quick practice in.    Here was a mid shop shot which gives you a feel for what I was dealing with.  Waaaaay too much clutter in that shot which should have been fixed in the field.

Trust me, it started out a LOT worse.  In fact, the following shot gives a good idea of how crappy the composition was.  Annoying branches cutting through the key focus of the scene, branches encroaching on the subject and lost detail in the Grackle itself which is the most interesting part of this bird – beyond the cool eye of course.

I did not spend enough time on the clean up to do anything crazy like print it or blow it up, but for web purposes, I have to admit I like the first shot much better than the others.  I know there’s haters out there but they’ll go on an on about how great Ansel Adams was, oblivious to the fact he was shopping the hell out of his product as well – he just had to work a LOT harder in the darkroom.  Again, I’ll let you know when I’m doing major cosmetics so don’t get too concerned.

All of this discussion on shopping allows me to skip the specifics on this annoying bird.  They are foragers, have a tendency to destroy crops, steal food from other birds and squawk up a storm.  The only real thing they have going for them is their plumage is somewhat iridescent and shimmers in the sunlight in combinations of purples, greens and blues.  They do have a cool yellow eye, but not cool enough to want to see them around the feeders.

Qui”See”cal”You”s later

2 thoughts on “Project Chekov: Quiscalus”

  1. To be more precise, the Common Grackle has this taxonomy:

    Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Aves
    Order: Passeriformes
    Family: Icteridae
    Genus: Quiscalus

    The avian genus Quiscalus contains six of the ten species of grackle, gregarious passerine birds in the Icterid family. They are native to North and South America. The six species are:

    Boat-tailed Grackle, Quiscalus major
    Common Grackle, Quiscalus quiscula
    Great-tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus
    Slender-billed Grackle, Quiscalus palustris – extinct (1910)
    Nicaraguan Grackle, Quiscalus nicaraguensis
    Greater Antillean Grackle, Quiscalus niger
    Carib Grackle, Quiscalus lugubris

    That’s all I can recall off the top of my head.

    I agree with your assessment of the Common Grackle’s social manners. The head is pretty cool, though.



  2. The good news is I already have the Great-Tailed Grackle check and even blogged on it – I also have another set coming from the Texas trip .. the bad news is this and the Common are the only two I have. Quite the scientific bird taxonomy knowledge in your head!


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