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Common grackle

Common grackle
Photo Information
Copyright: Jean Yves Bissonnette (JYB) Silver Note Writer [C: 2 W: 0 N: 84] (916)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-05-03
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon 30D, Canon 100-400L 4.5-5.6 IS USM, RAW @ ISO 400
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/640 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2008-05-04 20:47
Viewed: 3359
Points: 4
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
A familiar sight on suburban lawns, the Common Grackle can be recognized by its iridescent purple and bronze plumage and long, keel-shaped tail. It's expanding its range into the far West, but is most common in the East.

Cool Facts

The Common Grackle is an opportunistic forager, taking advantage of whatever food sources it can find. It will follow plows for invertebrates and mice, wade into water to catch small fish, and sometimes kill and eat other birds at bird feeders.

The Common Grackle commonly engages in anting, allowing ants to crawl on its body and secrete formic acid, possibly to rid the body of parasites. In addition to ants, it has been seen using walnut juice, lemons and limes, marigold blossoms, choke cherries, and mothballs in a similar fashion.

The Common Grackle has benefited from human activities. The clearing of the Eastern forests was to its liking. The expansion of agriculture, along with the use of mechanical crop harvesters, improved overwinter survival by increasing the supply of waste grain. In the West, the Common Grackle has moved into new areas by following the planting of ornamental trees.

topSize: 28-34 cm (11-13 in)
Wingspan: 36-46 cm (14-18 in)
Weight: 74-142 g (2.61-5.01 ounces)

Large blackbird.
Iridescent black all over.
Long tail, keel-shaped in flight.
Eyes yellow.

Bill black and moderately long and stout.
Head, neck, and breast glossy purplish-blue or green.
Widespread bronzed form has brassy bronze body, contrasting with purplish head.
Coastal purple form has entire body glossed purple.

Sex Differences
Female slightly smaller and less glossy.

Juvenile is dull brown with dark brown eyes.

Similar Species

European Starling has a short tail and a long pointed yellow bill.
Brewer's and Rusty blackbirds are smaller, have shorter tails without a keel, and shorter more pointed bills.
Boat-tailed and Great-tailed grackles are much larger with longer, more keeled tails. They have less iridescence on the body, are never bronzy, and the females are tan.

Song a harsh, unmusical "readle-eak," like a rusty gate. Call a sharp, harsh "chack."


Breeds from northeastern British Columbia, eastern Idaho, and eastern New Mexico eastward to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Winter Range
Winters from southern Minnesota and southern New England southward.

Found in a variety of open areas with scattered trees, including open woodland, boreal forest, swamps, marshes, agricultural areas, urban residential areas, and parks.

Primarily insects, other invertebrates, grain, seeds, acorns, and fruit. Also fish, small birds, mice, and frogs.

Forages on ground, often in large flocks with other blackbirds.

Nest Type
Nest is a bulky cup of woody stems, leaves, grass, string, bark, and other materials. Lined with mud and fine grasses or hair. Placed in small tree, usually a conifer, suspended between two branches or placed on a limb.

Egg Description
Light blue to gray, with dark scrawls and spots, often concentrated at large end.

Clutch Size
Usually 1-7 eggs.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless with sparse brown down.

Conservation Status
Abundant and widespread, extending its range west. Eastern populations declining from an all-time high that occurred around 1970.

Other Names
Quiscale bronzé (French)
Zanate norteño (Spanish)

Source : http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Common_Grackle_dtl.html

japiey, SueThomson has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Jean,

Excellent image.
Interesting tones and lights..
Well shared notes.


Hi Jean
He might be common, but he looks quite magnetic here with good colour captured on his neck area. Good note too!

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