Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)

Common Grackle

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Icteridae | [latin] Quiscalus quiscula | [UK] Common Grackle | [FR] Quiscula bronze | [DE] Purpurgrackel | [ES] Zanate norteno | [NL] Glanstroepiaal


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Quiscalus quiscula NA c, e
Quiscalus quiscula quiscula
Quiscalus quiscula stonei
Quiscalus quiscula versicolor

Physical charateristics

Male: A large, very iridescent, yellow-eyed blackbird, larger than a Robin, with a long, wedge-shaped or keel-shaped tail.
Flight more level than that of other blackbirds. Iridescent purple on head, deep bronze on back. Females are somewhat smaller and duller; juveniles are sooty, with dark eyes. The “Bronzed” Grackle (New England and west of Appalachians) and “Purple” Grackl
e (seaboard south of New England) were formerly regarded as separate species.

wingspan min.: 36 cm wingspan max.: 46 cm
size min.: 28 cm size max.: 34 cm
incubation min.: 11 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 10 days fledging max.: 17 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 7  


North America : Central, East


Farmland, towns, groves, streamsides. Common in
many kinds of open or semi-open country. Often forages in farm fields, pastures, suburban lawns, cattle feedlots, marshes. Nests and roosts in places with dense trees (especially conifers) close to open areas, as in groves, woodland edges, parks.


Typically nests in small colonies of 10-30 pairs, sometimes to 100 or more. In courtship, male fluffs out body feathers, partly spreads wings and tail, and gives short scraping song; also postures with bill pointing straight up.
Site is often well hidden among branches of dense tree or shrubs near water, less than 20′ above ground; sometimes much higher, or very low in marsh growth. Unusual sites include hole in tree or hollow stump, in lower part of active Osprey nest, or insid
e old building. Nest (built by female) is bulky open cup of weeds, grass, twigs, usually with some mud added; inside lined with fine grass.
Eggs: 4-5, sometimes 2-6. Pale blue, blotched with brown. Incubation is by female only, 12-14 days.
Young: Both parents feed nestlings, bringing them mostly insects. Young leave the nest about 16-20 days after hatching. 1 brood per year, sometimes 2.

Feeding habits

Feeds on insects, including beetle grubs, grasshoppers, caterpillars, many others; also spiders, earthworms, and such diverse items as crayfish, minnows, frogs, lizards, eggs and young of other birds, and small rodents. Vegetable matter
important in diet, may be majority in winter; includes berries, seeds, grain, acorns.
Forages mostly by walking on ground; also up in trees and shrubs. When not nesting, usually forages in flocks. Sometimes steals food from other birds. Will come to bird feeders. May soak dry bread crumbs in water before eating them.


This species has an extremely 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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to 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.
Common Grackle status Least Concern


Canada, United States, mainly east of Rockies.
b Migration: Migrates in flocks. Present all year in much of range. In the North, migration is quite early in spring and fairly late in fall.

Distribution map

Common Grackle distribution range map

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