Viral video shows grackles picking at packaged meat in Austin H-E-B store

Grackles pick at packaged chicken in a central Austin H-E-B store. (Courtesy photo/video)

They aren't the kind of birds grocery store shoppers had in mind Sunday. Video shot at an H-E-B on E. 41st Street in Austin shows a pair of grackles pecking away at packages of raw chicken.

"The doors are big. They take a wrong turn, and all of a sudden they're inside of a grocery store," said Peter English, assistant professor of Biology at UT Austin.

This doesn't come as a surprise to English. He says grackles often find shelter at their beloved grocery store parking lots because the environment makes for an ideal roosting spot. They have plenty of access to food, space to gather in large groups, and decent lighting to watch for prey.

"People drop their groceries just from transport and delivery and all that that stuff gets spilled, so they eat that. The trees are the right size, evenly spaced," he said.

And sometimes they take a wrong turn.

The woman who shot the video didn't want to be interviewed but says she's concerned other meat could be contaminated.

A store manager at the H-E-B told CBS Austin the rows of chicken were thrown out and they sanitized the shelves before restocking.

English says this isn't much to worry about.

"Grackles don't carry a lot of diseases that are going to be transmitted through food on the floor and certainly not just from their mere presence," he said.

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