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Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus


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Great-tailed Grackle, male
© George H. Harrison

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Icteridae, Blackbirds and Orioles view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has blackish plumage overall, but in good light note the bluish violet sheen on much of the body. ADULT FEMALE Has brown plumage overall, darkest on wings and tail, and warmest and palest on throat, chest, and supercilium. JUVENILE Similar to adult female, but with streaking on underparts, and dark eye.

Dimensions Length: Male, 16-17" (41-43 cm); female, 12-13" (30-33 cm)

Habitat Formerly primarily a Mexican species that is now very common in southern U.S., favoring open habitats from farmland to parks and gardens; year-round resident in most parts but range extends north in summer.

Observation Tips Noisy and conspicuous, hence hard to miss.

Voice Song is a strange mix of slurred whistles and electrical static-type sounds, usually ending in a staccato, mechanical rattle; call is a soft tchut.

Discussion Large and raucous, slim-bodied grackle with a long, daggerlike bill. Forms flocks outside breeding season. All birds have relatively long, narrow wings and all adults have a pale iris. Male is larger than female and has a bizarrely long, diamond-shaped tail (appreciably longer than female's tail). Sexes are separable on plumage differences too.