Great-tailed Grackles are very similar to Boat-tailed Grackles, but the two species overlap only along the western Gulf Coast. Where the two species overlap, Boat-tailed Grackles have dark eyes and Great-tailed Grackles have pale yellow eyes. Habitat is also helpful: Great-tailed Grackles are much more likely to be seen away from coasts, and they are now found across much of the inland West. Common Grackles are smaller with slimmer bills and shorter tails than Boat-tailed Grackles. Young Common Grackles are brownish, like female Boat-tailed Grackles, but tend to be more uniformly dark brown, without the female Boat-tailed’s subtle face pattern. Fish Crows are heavier and have larger bodies, thicker bills, and much shorter tails than Boat-tailed Grackles.
Along the western Gulf Coast, Boat-tailed Grackles have dull, brownish eyes. Along the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf Coast west to Mississippi, Boat-tailed Grackles have bright yellow eyes.
Boat-tailed Grackles eat sunflower seeds, sorghum, millet, corn, and other bird seeds from feeders, particularly platform feeders.
Find This Bird
To see Boat-tailed Grackles, head to the southeastern or Gulf Coast and look for long-tailed black birds around marsh edges, boat launches, and parks. They often walk around boldly on long legs with their tails cocked up, searching for food. It is also common to see Boat-tailed Grackles perched on roadside utility wires. If you still can’t find one, head to a fast food restaurant in a beach town and scout around for discarded French fries—you’re almost sure to find grackles there.