Fun Great Tailed Grackle Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
May 16, 2023 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Great tailed grackle facts about the famous blackbirds from the American continent.

Ever wondered if a blackbird can attract your attention without being considered ominous? The answer lies in the Great-tailed Grackle, which is very social, sweet-sounding, and noisy yet beautiful in its shiny black body.

Historically, these bird species were endemic to Central and South America, but now their range and population have expanded to southern Canada. They belong to the order Passeriformes family Icteridae and the genus Quiscalus.

They have a distinct long tapered tail which is as long as their body. This is where the specific name of the species comes from.

These blackbirds are ground foragers and occasionally venture into the water to grab a frog or fish meal. Their winter roost size can reach up to half a million, which is a visible sight in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

They are a nightmare to the residents in Houston, Texas, where these birds populate parking lots and neighborhoods, disrupting people around. Read on to explore this exciting songbird.

If you are intrigued by our little avian friend here, we offer you more interesting information coming your way on scarlet macaw and American wigeon.

Great-tailed Grackle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a great-tailed grackle?

They are North American birds known for their social nature and vocalizations. One of the extant species from the Grackle family is very similar to the slender-billed Grackle. They are often mistaken for a Crow for their similarity in appearance.

What class of animal does a great-tailed grackle belong to?

This North American passerine bird belongs to class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Icteridae, and genus Quiscalus. The distinct features of this class are that they are endothermic, their wings are modified forelimbs, and they have unique flight muscles that assist in their flight.

How many great-tailed grackles are there in the world?

The global breeding population of Great-tailed grackles was estimated at 10 million, with 53% of the count present in the US and 36% present in Mexico. They are not an endangered species as their population is increasing steadily, and they are capable of adapting to new geographical ranges.

Where does a great-tailed grackle live?

These bird species are found in wetlands, mangroves, pastures, scrub, trees, and urban areas. Urban development has pushed the habitat for this bird to agricultural and urban settings. Their habitats are diverse, from Mexico to Central America to southern parts of Canada.

What is a great-tailed grackle's habitat?

Their habitat regions cover temperate and tropical zones. They are also found near the sea or up to 24606 ft (7500 m) above sea level.

They are found in abundance near water bodies. Urban development led to the expansion of their territories into city dwellings. They populate trees in the parks, dump places, and lawns in the neighborhood in the city.

Who do great-tailed grackles live with?

These blackbirds are social animals living along with their flocks. They are diurnal animals foraging with the flocks of blackbirds during the day and returning to their sites by dusk.

There are dominant males in the flocks, and they are highly territorial. The cacophony of the flocks may be annoying to the urban folks who look for ways to keep the Grackles out.

A few ways to eliminate the Grackles include installing grackle-proof bird feeders or shortening/removing feeder perches. You could also install roosting areas with bird spikes or fit a motion-activated sprinkler to ward off these noisy bird flocks.

How long does a great-tailed grackle live?

The most extended lifespan amongst Great-tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus, birds was noted at 12.5 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

Breeding starts in spring when the female Great-tailed Grackle chooses nesting sites on trees or shrubs and builds the nest. The males protect the nesting site from other females attempting to steal the raw materials to make their own nest. There are specific vocal calls and displays of wings during mating or courtship.

Females of the Grackle lay four to seven eggs and incubate these eggs in the nest. The incubation period is as long as 15 days. Post-hatching, the hatchlings leave the nest in 12-17 days. The parents tend to the young ones until they are mature.

What is their conservation status?

The IUCN Red List has placed these species in the Least Concern bracket. These North American birds are invasive species of birds, expanding their habitat range and breeding in good numbers to maintain a healthy population count. They are not thought to be endangered.

Great-tailed Grackle Fun Facts

What do great-tailed grackles look like?

Great-tailed Grackles are of medium size, with males displaying iridescent black and purple feathers, especially on the tail. The females are dark brown, having darker tails and wings. Adult males and females have yellow eyes, and juveniles have brown eyes. The males and females have a keel-shaped tail. The male's tail is proportionate to their body size.

In symbolism, the coloration of the Grackle signifies the connection between mind and heart. It emphasizes believing in reality and being non-judgemental of others. Despite its dark appearance, this blackbird is a happy bird.

A black colored great tailed grackle.

How cute are they?

Their shiny body with sweet vocalizations makes them attractive passerine bird. The females watching over their young hatchlings are another pretty sight to watch.

How do they communicate?

They have specific body gestures like cocking of the head or an array of sound modulations to communicate. There seems to be a song unique for each occasion. The frequency of the sound is based on what is being communicated. They also indulge in visual and tactile means of communication.

How big is a great-tailed grackle?

The Great-tailed Grackles can grow as big as 18 in (45.7 cm). The Common Grackle vs Great-tailed Grackle size shows that Common Grackles are smaller with a size of 13 in (33 cm).

The Great-tailed Grackles are comparable to their similar species, Boat-tailed grackles, which size up to 17 in (43.2 cm). These species can be differentiated by the color of their eyes which is yellow eyes for the Great-tailed Grackles and dark ones for Boat-tailed Grackles.

How fast can a great-tailed grackle fly?

There is no specific study found to decipher the flying speed of this species of bird. They are known to fly at great speed when trying to defend their territories.

How much does a great-tailed grackle weigh?

The Great-tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus, weighs up to 9.3 oz in (265 g) males, and in females weighs up to 5 oz (142 g). They are much cleaner than the Common raven that can weigh up to 70 oz (2 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name for the male and female species of birds. It is called Great-tailed Grackle female or Great-tailed Grackle male. A group of Grackles is referred to as plague.

What would you call a baby great-tailed grackle?

A Great-tailed Grackle baby is referred to as a chick or a hatchling. The Great-tailed Grackle juvenile becomes independent in three weeks post-hatching.

What do they eat?

These birds of North America feed on fruits and grains year-round. They feed most during summer and early fall. Females' feed consists of 80% of animal matter. They eat insects, frogs, lizards, and small mammals such as shrews and mice. They also consume the eggs of birds and nestlings.

Are they aggressive?

The blackbird from North America is known for its noisy and aggressive colonizing nature. They gather in flocks of thousands. There have been cited instances, particularly from Austin, Texas, where these birds are known to gather huge numbers on University campuses and harass the students around. This blackbird also has a bad reputation for being called a food-stealer.

Would they make a good pet?

Since they are wild animals, they do not make good pets. They prefer living with their flocks in large numbers, and they are boisterous in their roosting sites. They are classified as pests in many places for their nature to damage the crops.

A Great-tailed Grackle pet is still an open thought to some avian enthusiasts who raise these blackbirds and release them back in their flocks. The young blackbird needs to be trained to forage in the open yards and taught to find food for itself.

Feed amount needs to be carefully monitored too. After a few months, these young blackbirds are released into their community, which accepts them gladly.

Did you know...

Due to its similarity to Crow, in certain parts of Mexico, these birds are called 'cuervo' (crow in Spanish).

In the Southern US, they are synonymously called 'Blackbirds.'

The Boat-tailed Grackle and Great-tailed Grackle were thought of as similar species until genetic study differentiated the species.

What does a great-tailed grackle sound like?

Great-tailed Grackle sounds have a wide array of collections over different years. The sound could range from sweet and melodious to a cracky rickety, rusty sound. Some sounds may come across as too loud and are best heard from a distance. Great-tailed Grackle screaming makes these birds be considered a pest species in a few parts of their habitats.

An adult male Great-tailed Grackle uses a broader range of sound vocalization than the females who chiefly use chatter sounds. The Great-tailed Grackle call or Great-tailed Grackle song length may last up to 3.1 seconds and has an average frequency of 2500 Hz.

The songs of the adult male Great-tailed Grackle may be a sign to establish their territorial range during breeding.

How has the great-tailed grackle's range changed over the last century?

It has been observed that the Great-tailed Grackle range is expanding into North America from the later part of the 19th century until the start of the 21st century. The urban and agricultural land change patterns have encouraged these birds to explore new habitats and adapt to the new geographical ranges.

These birds are found from Mexico to western parts of the United States to as far as Canada.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds, including shrike or killdeer.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our great-tailed grackle coloring pages.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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