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Boat-tailed Grackle (Gulf Coast)

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Boat-tailed Grackles are one of three related species on the Texas Gulf Coast, as if one weren’t enough. They’re a large, dark bird with a loud, harsh call. Their habitat stretches from suburban fields to urban parks to coastal marshes.

Boat-tailed Grackle
QUISCALUS MAJOR
• Length: 16.5 inches
• Wingspan: 23 inches
• Season: Year-round
More about Boat-tailed Grackles.
Where they are, and when.

They are larger than the Common Grackle, which has more of a bronze body. The Great-tailed Grackle is slightly bigger, but much harder to distinquish. Where they overlap, the Boat-tailed Grackle has brown eyes while the Great-tailed’s eyes are a lighter yellow. The male is an iridescent purple, blue and green, while the female looks like a different bird – about half the size and rufous brown with dark wings. They get their name from their enormous tails that they hold in a “V” like the keel of a boat.

Boat-tailed Grackles will eat almost anything, from what’s lying on the beach at at low tide to what just came off your dinner table.

They breed in salt and freshwater marshes and rarely travel far from the coast. Their approach to mating is unusual. Females group their nests together and the males compete to be the one to mate with the entire colony. In practicality, though many females still mate with the “losers” when they are away from the colony.

About Scott Clark

I’m a digital journalist who’s worked as a photographer, reporter, producer and editor. My interest in the natural history of my surroundings reaches back to my early days beachcombing on the Jersey coast, rowing my boat on a quiet lake in Missouri and, more recently, discovering the mountains and backwoods of Montana, where I was born.

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