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Great-tailed Grackle

Quiscalus mexicanus

Family:

Icteridae, the blackbird and oriole family

Conservation Status:

Least Concern IUCN.

Distribution:

Tropical America expanding into the southwestern United States.

Habitat:

Open areas with scattered trees, cultivated areas, marshes, parks and areas around human habitation.

Factoid:

They will follow tractors to get food exposed by plowing and will pick off and eat ectoparasites from cattle. They also recognize and eject Bronzed cowbird eggs from their nests.

These blackbirds are large and noisy. Males are iridescent black with a purplish-blue sheen, yellow eyes, a long, keel-shaped tail, moderately long black legs ad a flat-topped head profile. Females are dusky brown with darker wings and tails, yellow eyes, buff eye stripes and throats, cinnamon buff to buff-brown bellies and long slightly keeled tails. The beaks and legs of both sexes are black.

Their diet includes snails, insects, frogs, shrimp, small fish and birds, eggs and young of other birds, fruits, berries, seeds and grains, for which they forage while walking on the ground and wading in water. They will also steal food from other birds.

Males perform courtship displays, fluffing feathers, beaks pointed skyward. Cup-shaped nests of woven plant material are suspended from small upright branches of trees, shrubs or rushes. Three to four light blue to gray eggs with red purple markings are laid and incubation takes from 13 to 14 days and is carried out by the female. Males will protect young from predators but otherwise provide no parental care.

 

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