Common Grackle

Common Name: Common Grackle
Class:
Aves
Order:
Passeriformes
Family: 
 Icteridae
Genus: 
Quiscalus
Species: 
Quiscalus quiscula

Taxonomy/Description

The Common Grackle is a member of the blackbird family, and is not related to the American Crow as many think. The birds of the family Icteridae are dichromatic, meaning the male and the female look very different from each other. The male common grackle is an iridescent black, with the upper chest and head glistening blueish or purplish in the sun. The female is slightly smaller and more brownish, less iridescent. The Common Grackle has a very long, dark gray beak. Size: 28-34 cm (11-13 in) Wingspan: 36-46 cm (14-18 in) Weight: 74-142 g (2.61-5.01 ounces)

Habitat/Diet

The Common Grackle is a very well populated bird, residing all over North America east of the American Rockies. Their numbers may be upwards of 100 million in North America. This bird is known to migrate up to Canada for the summer and reside east of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Common Grackles are found in open areas with scattered trees, particularly in suburban developments. They are not usually found in very wooded areas because they like to forage on the ground. Grackles will also forage in shallow water or in shrubs. The Grackle has also been know to steal food from other birds. Grackles are omnivorous, eating insects, minnows, frogs, eggs, berries, seeds and grain, even small birds.

Behavior/Reproduction

Common Grackles do not mate for life. However, every mating season there is male-female pair bonding, meaning they are monogamous. From pair formation through incubation, the male remains in close association with his mate by perching near her, following her, and engaging in mutual displays. This pattern exhibited by the male probably functions to guard against extra-pair copulations. Once incubation has begun, his attentiveness decreases steadily. The Common Grackle's nest is large and bulky, constructed of woody stems, leaves and fine grasses. It is cup shaped and lined with mud and usually fine grasses or horse hair. Eggs are a light blue or pearl gray, usually spotless. A Common Grackle's clutch size is about 4 to 6 eggs. One clutch a year is laid. The eggs are incubated by the female and hatch in 12-14 days. At this time, about half the males have deserted the mother and the nest. Those who remain will participate in parental care, including brooding and feeding. 12 to 17 days after hatching, the babies are strong enough to leave the nest, however they remain near the nest several days thereafter. Common Grackles are very social, and are commonly found around other grackles, Red-Winged Blackbirds, and European Starlings. However, the Common Grackle becomes very territorial around its nest and will attack other birds, even humans.

Where to see them in WNY

The Common Grackle can be found in almost any open area or field. They are commonly found on the lawns of suburban houses, foraging for food.

 

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