Common Grackle
Quiscalus quiscula
Family Icteridae

A rather large blackbird, the Common Grackle is easily distinguished by its iridescent purple and bronze plumage. It is an opportunistic forager, and will stakeout bird feeders to prey on small birds and will also follow plows to catch dug up invertebrates and mice.

Identifying Traits (male):

  • Iridescent black all over
  • Pale, yellow eyes
  • Long, keel-shaped tail
  • Heavier bill than other blackbirds
  • Can display either iridescent bronzed (New England) or purple (south of New England) plumage
  • Size: 28-34 cm (11-13")
  • Weight: 74-142 g (2.6-5.0 oz)


Identifying Traits (female):

  • Slightly smaller and less glossy than male
Adult male  

Voice: Song unmusical, harsh, and metallic hiss, readle-eek. Call a sharp chuck or chack.

Habitat: The Common Grackle is especially tolerant of human-altered habitats, and will make its home in farmlands, towns, and orchards. Pine groves are often used for nesting.

Range: The Common Grackle is mostly found in eastern and central America, but is quickly expanding its range west.

Interesting Facts: The Common Grackle often allows ants to crawl over its body so that they may secrete formic acid, which is thought to kill parasites, a practice called anting. Besides formic acid from ants, the Common Grackle has been observed using various other substances, such as walnut juice, mothballs, lemons, limes, and choke cherries in similar ways.


Home | Glossary | Search | Help | About | References