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Common grackle

Quiscalus quiscula

Photo: Common grackle
Weights and measures
Length 32 cm
Animal description
The Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) is a captivating bird species that belongs to the Icteridae family, which is known for its diverse group of New World blackbirds. These birds are a familiar sight across much of North America, especially in the eastern and central regions, where they inhabit a variety of environments including wetlands, agricultural fields, suburban areas, and forests. The Common Grackle is recognized for its adaptability and generalist lifestyle, allowing it to thrive in a wide range of habitats.

One of the most striking features of the Common Grackle is its appearance. Adult grackles boast a long, sleek body that measures approximately 11 to 13 inches in length, with a wingspan that can reach up to 18 inches. They possess a distinctive long, keel-shaped tail, which is particularly pronounced in males and adds to their streamlined silhouette. Their plumage is predominantly iridescent, displaying a mesmerizing array of colors that shift in different lighting conditions. Males are especially vibrant, with glossy black feathers that can shimmer with hues of blue, purple, or green, particularly on the head and body. Females and juveniles tend to have a more subdued coloration, with brownish or less iridescent tones, but they still exhibit the species' characteristic sleek appearance.

The Common Grackle's bill is another notable characteristic, being long, sturdy, and slightly curved. This adaptation allows them to exploit a diverse diet, ranging from insects, small animals, and crustaceans to grains, seeds, and fruits. Their versatility in feeding habits is a key factor in their widespread presence and success in various environments.

Vocally, the Common Grackle is equally intriguing. Their calls are varied and include harsh, grating noises and a range of other sounds that can be described as squeaks, whistles, and chattering. During the breeding season, males can be observed performing vocal displays, which, along with their iridescent plumage, play a crucial role in attracting mates.

In terms of behavior, Common Grackles are known for their intelligence and resourcefulness. They are often seen foraging in large flocks, especially in agricultural fields where they can sometimes become a nuisance to farmers due to their feeding habits. However, their social behavior extends beyond foraging; during the breeding season, they may nest in small colonies, offering some protection against predators.

The nest of the Common Grackle is a bulky structure made of twigs, grass, and mud, typically situated in trees or shrubs. Females lay between 4 to 7 eggs, which are incubated for about two weeks before hatching. The young are then cared for by both parents, showcasing the species' cooperative parenting approach.

Despite their abundance, Common Grackles, like many bird species, face challenges due to habitat loss, pollution, and climate change. However, they have shown remarkable resilience and continue to be a common sight in many parts of their range. Their presence adds to the biodiversity of the areas they inhabit, playing important roles in the ecosystem as both predators and prey.

In summary, the Common Grackle is a fascinating and adaptable bird species, known for its iridescent plumage, versatile feeding habits, and complex social behaviors. As a common feature of the North American landscape, they continue to captivate and intrigue those who take the time to observe these unique birds.
Map of occurrence
Photo: Common grackle - occurrence
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