Great-tailed Grackle

The Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus), is a large icterid blackbird. It is sometimes referred to simply as “˜blackbird’, and occasionally “˜crow’ or “˜jackdaw’, though it is not a member of the Corvidae family of birds. It is often called “˜cuervo’ in areas of Mexico where there are no true crows.

Its range stretches from Kansas in the northeast to southern California in the northwest down to northwest Peru and northwest Venezuela in the south. The grackle’s range has been expanding north and west in recent years. It is common in Texas and Arizona in the southern regions. It is commonly found in agricultural regions and suburban environments, feeding on fruits, seeds, and invertebrates.

There is a considerable amount of sexual dimorphism in this species. Males reach up to 18 inches, including a tail that is almost as long as the body. They weigh about 8 ounces, and are jet-black with a violet-blue iridescent sheen to the feathers. Females are significantly smaller at 13 inches, 4.5 ounces, and are mainly brownish-black, with a pale brown throat and belly.

The Great-tailed Grackle and Boat-tailed Grackle were once considered the same species. Some species of Grackle, usually the Great-tailed, are confused with an American Crow when people unfamiliar with bird identification are asked to identify a dead blackbird. This usually occurs when birds need to be identified as candidates for West Nile virus.

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