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Common Grackle

Quiscalus quiscula ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: ICTERIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Common Grackles are blackbirds that look like they've been slightly stretched. They're taller and longer tailed than a typical blackbird, with a longer, more tapered bill and glossy-iridescent bodies. Grackles walk around lawns and fields on their long legs or gather in noisy groups high in trees, typically evergreens. They eat many crops (notably corn) and nearly anything else as well, including garbage. In flight their long tails trail behind them, sometimes folded down the middle into a shallow V shape.

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Songs

  • Call, song (Bronzed race)
      No sound? Click here
  • Calls, song (Purple mixed race)
      No sound? Click here
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Common Grackles make a variety of squeaks, whistles, and croaks. The typical song, made by both males and females, is a guttural readle-eak accompanied by high-pitched, clear whistles. It lasts just less than a second and is often described as sounding like a rusty gate.

Calls

Males and females make a very short, harsh chaa or chitip call when alarmed, taking flight, or approaching other grackles. Males make a distinctive, short, nasal call while perching in a nesting colony.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

During migration, set up bird feeders in your yard with a variety of mixed grain and seeds. Spreading grain or seed on the ground helps, as this is where Common Grackles prefer to feed – and if they come to the ground they may let smaller birds continue to use the feeders. Bear in mind that too much grain scattered on the ground can attract rodents, so it's best to sprinkle just as much as the birds are likely to eat at any one time.

Find This Bird

Common Grackles are familiar inhabitants of wet, open woodland and marshes as well as in suburbs, parks, and agricultural fields. A good way to find them is to scan large flocks of blackbirds and starlings. The tallest, longest-tailed blackbirds you see will most likely be Common Grackles.

Get Involved

Keep track of the Common Grackles at your feeder with Project FeederWatch

Look for Common Grackle nests and contribute valuable data about them through NestWatch

Report your Common Grackle sightings to eBird

Learn more about bird photography in our Building Skills section. Then contribute your images to the Birdshare flickr site, which helps supply the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's websites with photos, including All About Birds.

You Might Also Like

Common Grackle from Bent's Life Histories of North American Birds (1958)

Explore sounds and video of Common Grackles from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library archive