Common Grackle

Quiscalus quiscula
Range Map

All Grackle species are native to the Americas, and all are showy and bold; at least those members I’ve met are. Like its Great-Tailed and Boat-Tailed cousins, Common Grackles sport a long keel-shaped tail. Some members of this clan have dark brown eyes, but most, like this bird, have bright yellow irises. As with many birds, males are the cocks-of-the-walk. Iridescent blue-black feathers, especially when courting members of the opposite sex, almost glow when reflecting the rays of the sun. Unlike the other North American grackle species, The Common Grackle only has the blue-black feathers on its head and neck. The rest of its body is a dark chocolate-brown. This distinguishes them from their boy cousins.

Until I undertook my 2022 expedition into Canada and the mid-western USA, I’d never met the Common Grackle. After leaving Cody Wyoming and drifting towards Canada, I passed through the village of Lowell, only 46 miles to the northwest. While exploring Lowell Lakes, just 3 miles south of town, I met Red-Winged and Yellow-Headed Blackbirds in the company of these grackles. It made for a lovely morning. As I continued my expedition, these birds appeared more regularly to me. I found them as far north as northern British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.

As Europeans settled the lands and cleared the forests during their westward expansion in the 18th and 19th centuries, these birds followed, and rapidly expanded their range. Today, they are considered by many to be an agricultural pest. Yet I find no sin in these birds, they are only doing what comes naturally.

Click map markers to reveal further information