Great-Tailed Grackle

Quiscalus mexicanus
Range Map

Since the 1960s, the Great-Tailed Grackle has expanded its range over most of the southwest USA. Earlier in the 1900s, their range barely reached north of Mexico. Though they breed slightly north in their range, they are year-round residents in Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico. Originally from South and Central America, early Aztecs brought them north as they expanded their civilization in the 15th century. During the 20th century, these birds expanded their range north into the USA on their own by following agricultural corridors.

These bold and brash birds make their presence known with a variety of loud calls. During my Texas expedition in spring of 2020, I once parked under a tree that at day’s end was filled with grackles. The din of the colony was so relentless I had to move my RV. They never shut up!

Today, science recognises eight subspecies of Great-Tailed Grackle:

  • Q. m. nelsoni breeds from central California to northern Baja California (Mexico).
  • Q. m. nelsoni breeds in southeast California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, west Texas, and parts of Mexico.
  • Q. m. prosopidicola breeds from Nebraska to central Texas, Louisiana, and parts of Mexico.
  • Q. m. graysoni breeds in coastal Sinaloa (Mexico).
  • Q. m. obscurus breeds in along the Pacific coast of southern Mexico.
  • Q. m. mexicanus breeds in southern Mexico and northern Central America.
  • Q. m. loweryi breeds along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
  • Q. m. peruvianus breeds in southern Central America and northern South America.

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