Alien ‘devil birds’ invade Lake Merced


On my daily morning jog at Lake Merced,  I typically have to keep an alert eye for small rodents, weird lake-dwelling bugs, low-flying branches, and — of course — bikers that threaten to run me over.

I guess now I’m also going to have to be aware of demon birds trying to swoop down and take my blonde head off.

SFGate reports that great-tailed grackles, known by feather-followers as “devil birds,” are making an appearance around the marshy area down the hill from San Francisco State and the Stonestown Mall.

The great-tailed grackle — kind of sounds like the name of a Dr. Seuss character — is native to Central America north through the Southern United States. But ornithologists believe changes in their habitat caused by humans have forced them northwest of Texas and into California.

And while these crow-like flyers made their debut in the Bay Area back in the mid-80s, the current cluster in the Lake Merced area is reportedly the largest concentration in San Francisco to date.

So what exactly gives these black buzzards their heathen nickname?

The grackle is a carnivorous creature, feasting on small mammals and reptiles, even the eggs of smaller birds. They aren’t afraid of humans either: The grackle couple observed back in 1986 straight dive-bombed workers who were trying to remove the tree they were living in.

More specifically, old-school lore suggested that the demonic-looking birds had evil supernatural powers. You know, because what else would you have to say about a violet-black bird with beady eyes, a blood-curdling shriek, and a penchant for preying on smaller birds?

Sightings of this bird may be exciting for the experts, but there is also the concern over the grackle’s prominent presence altering the ecosystem around the lake.

Me? As long as one of these Satanic birds doesn’t swoop down and try to snag my cellphone, we should be able to co-exist just fine.

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