- Boat-tailed Grackle, Quiscalus major
- Common Grackle, Quiscalus quiscula
- Great-tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus
The best way to separate Common Grackles from blackbirds and cowbirds is by size and shape: Common Grackles are larger, lankier, longer tailed, and longer billed. Common Grackles have a widened tail, often held in a V-shape, even in flight. Great-tailed Grackles of the Southwest and south Texas, and Boat-tailed Grackles of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, are even larger, and the males have much larger and more deeply keeled tails. The Great-tailed Grackle is the largest of our grackles, by several inches; while lighter in body-weight, they are about the same length as an American Crow.
Boat-tailed Grackles overlap with Great-tailed Grackles only in coastal Texas and Louisiana. They live mainly in coastal salt marshes, rarely moving inland (except in Florida where they are widespread across the peninsula). Boat-tailed Grackles, only slightly larger than the Common Grackle, have a much more rounded head, whereas Great-tailed Grackles have a sloping, flat crown.
Grackles tend to congregate in large groups, such a group is called: a plague of grackles.
A Plague of Grackes; likely with other black birds
like starlings and Red-Winged Blackbirds.
I like these big guys; probably because I don't get anywhere near that many! I should be thankful I've never had many more than about 100 mixed 'black birds' in my yard at a single time! But because I am intrigued by these Grackles (and used to confuse Great-tailed with the much smaller Boat-tailed Grackles), I intend to follow this post with a 3-part piece on the Grackles I might actually see here in Colorado. I hope you enjoy...and leave a comment; I love 'em. Again, if you click a label you'll find other postings & photos of a similar nature.
- Cornell’s All About Birds
- The Crossley Guide – Eastern Birds
- Kaufman Focus Guide – Birds of North America
- Smithsonian Field Guide to Birds of North America
- Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America