2023 · Days of The Week · On Our Property · Wildlife Wednesday

Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)

The great-tailed grackle or Mexican grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) is a medium-sized, highly social passerine bird native to North and South America. A member of the family Icteridae, it is one of 10 extant species of grackle and is closely related to the boat-tailed grackle and the extinct slender-billed grackle. In the southern United States, it is sometimes simply referred to as “blackbird” or (erroneously) “crow”] due to its glossy black plumage, and similarly, it is often called Cuervo (“raven”) in some parts of Mexico, although it is not a member of the crow genus Corvus, nor even of the family Corvidae.

Great-tailed grackles originated from the tropical lowlands of Central and South America, but historical evidence from Bernardino de Sahagún shows that the Aztecs, during the time of the emperor Ahuitzotl, introduced the great-tailed grackle from their homeland in the Mexican Gulf Coast to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan in the highland Valley of Mexico, most likely to use their iridescent feathers for decoration. In more recent times, great-tailed grackles expanded their breeding range by over 5,500% by moving north into North America between 1880 and 2000, following urban and agricultural corridors. Their current range stretches from northwestern Venezuela and western Colombia and Ecuador in the south to Minnesota in the north, to Oregon, Idaho, and California in the west, to Florida in the east, with vagrants occurring as far north as southern Canada. Their habitat for foraging is on the ground in clear areas such as pastures, wetlands, and mangroves, and chaparral. The grackles’ range has expanded with agricultural and urban settings.