Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major)

Boat-tailed Grackle

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Icteridae | [latin] Quiscalus major | [UK] Boat-tailed Grackle | [FR] Quiscale des marais | [DE] Bootschwanz-Grackel | [ES] Tordo cola ancha | [NL] Bootstaarttroepiaal


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Quiscalus major NA e, se USA
Quiscalus major alabamensis
Quiscalus major major
Quiscalus major torreyi
Quiscalus major westoni

Physical charateristics

A very large iridescent blackbird; much larger than Common Grackle, with a longer, more ample tail. Female much smaller than male; much browner than female Common Grackle; pale breast.

Listen to the sound of Boat-tailed Grackle

[audio: Grackle.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 39 cm wingspan max.: 50 cm
size min.: 26 cm size max.: 37 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 12 days fledging max.: 13 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : East, Southeast USA


Marshes, beaches, areas near coast; also inland in Florida. Almost always near water and very close to co
ast, in marshes, flooded fields, mudflats. Sometimes forages in drier fields in coastal regions. Occurs well inland in Florida, but generally near marshes and lakes.


Nests in colonies. In courtship and territorial display, male perches in the open, fluffs out feathers, spreads tail, and flutters wings above back while making a variety of harsh and rattling calls. Also postures with bill pointed straight up. Several ma
les may display together. Both males and females are often promiscuous.
Site usually near water: in marsh, in bushes or saplings at water’s edge, or in taller trees. Generally less than 12′ above ground or water, but can be much higher. Nest (built by female) is bulky cup of twigs, grass, weeds, bulrushes, Spanish moss, othe
r available materials, often with mud added to base; lined with fine grass.
Eggs: Usually 2-4. Pale greenish blue, irregularly marked with brown, gray, and black. Incubation is by female only, about 13-15 days.
Young: Fed by female only. Young leave the nest about 12-15 days after hatching.

Feeding habits

Much of diet is taken from water, including many aquatic insects, snails, crayfish, crabs, mussels, shrimp, tadpoles, frogs, and small fish. Also eats land insects (including grasshoppers and caterpillars), eggs and young of other birds. Seeds and grain
important in diet at some seasons.
Behavior: Forages mostly near water, by walking on shore or in shallow water, catching items with rapid thrusts of its bill. Sometimes steals food from larger birds. Will enter heron colonies to feed on unguarded eggs.


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Boat-tailed Grackle status Least Concern


Atlantic and Gulf coasts from New Jersey to central Texas. Migration: Generally a permanent resident, but a few northern breeders may move south in fall.

Distribution map

Boat-tailed Grackle distribution range map

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