The Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major) is a passerine bird of the family Icteridae, found as a permanent resident on the coasts of the southeastern United States. It is found in coastal saltwater marshes, and, in Florida, also on inland waters. The nest is a well-concealed cup in trees or shrubs near water; three to five eggs are laid.
The male boat-tailed grackle is 37–43 cm (15–17 in) long and weighs 165–250 g (5.8–8.8 oz). Adult males have entirely iridescent black plumage, a long dark bill, a pale yellowish or brown iris and a long keel-shaped tail. The adult female is much smaller at 26–33 cm (10–13 in) long and a weight of 90–115 g (3.2–4.1 oz). She is also distinguished by her shorter tail and tawny-brown coloration, which covers the body apart from the darker wings and tail. [Wikipedia]
When you smell salt water on the East Coast, it’s time to look out for Boat-tailed Grackles. The glossy blue-black males are hard to miss as they haul their ridiculously long tails around or display from marsh grasses or telephone wires. The rich, dark-brown females are half the size of males and look almost like a different species. Boat-tailed Grackles take advantage of human activity along our increasingly developed coast, scavenging trash and hanging out in busy urban areas away from predators. [All About Birds]
Boat-tailed Grackle Facts [All About Birds]
- The Boat-tailed Grackle was formally described in 1819 by the French ornithologist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot, from a specimen collected in New Orleans, Louisiana.
- The Boat-tailed Grackle has an odd mating system, called “harem defense polygyny,” that has much in common with deer and other big game. Females cluster their nests in a small area safe from predators, and males compete to see which one gets to defend and mate with the entire colony. But it’s not as simple as it may seem: though a colony’s dominant male mates far more often with the females, DNA fingerprinting shows that only about a quarter of the young are actually his. The remainder are fathered by males who the females mate with while away from the colony.
- Fledglings that fall into the water can swim well for short distances, using their wings as paddles.
- The oldest Boat-tailed Grackle on record was a female, and at least 13 years, 1 months, when she was re-caught and released by a South Carolina bird bander in 2003.