Thursday, April 27, 2017

Crops & Clips: Grackles

They are black, yet colorful as a rainbow. Specialized structures in their feathers reflect and refract light to produce iridescence. Grackles are abundant in our south Florida neighborhood. We host two resident species, Boat-tailed and Common Grackles. Boat-tailed Grackles' eye color may vary irregularly from yellow in some of the northern races to dark brown or almost black further south.

Boat-tailed Grackles range along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts as well as the entire Florida Peninsula. These large grackles (males measure 16 1/2 inches/42 cm) breed in colonies in marshes as well as suburban landscape trees. A few older alpha males compete to maintain their dominance over a group of females and subordinate males. 

Boat-tailed Grackle 02-20170413

Boat-tailed Grackle 20091119

During the winter they gather in same-sex flocks, and in early spring begin courtship and the males compete for dominance with elaborate displays. They sometimes fight viciously, but usually it is all a show:

Boat-tailed Grackle display 01-20161119

Males displaying:

Boat-tailed Grackles 20150212

Crossed swords:

Crossed swords 20110202

The male often closes his nictitating membrane during displays:

Boat-tailed Grackle display 2-20160404

Group display

Boat-tailed Grackles 20121226

Male eating millipede:

Boat-tailed Grackle with millipede 20120410

They often gather at the water's edge:

Boat-tailed Grackle HDR 2-20160402

Boat-tailed Grackles 2-20131014

The female Boat-tailed Grackle is smaller (14 1/2 inches/37 cm) and so different in appearance that some early observers thought it to be a different species:

Boat-tailed Grackle female 2-20170406

Female boat-tail reflection:

Boat-tailed Grackle female 20160408

Female Boat-tailed Grackle and waning gibbous Moon:

Boat-tailed Grackle female with moon 2-20151229

Common Grackles breed all across the eastern two-thirds of the US and Canada. They are very adaptable and have expanded their range westward as land has been cleared and developed. They are omnivorous but their taste for grain has made them serious agricultural pests. They especially like to  uproot corn as it sprouts. Their diet includes eggs and nestlings of native birds and are known to kill adult birds of smaller species. 

They are smaller (12 1/2 inches/32 cm), even more vividly iridescent than Boat-tails and have yellow eyes:

Common Grackle 2-20170402

Note the pattern of iridescence of our local "Purple" Grackle, a race of the Common Grackle which has a blue back (another race, the "Bronzed" Grackle reflects a glossy brown) :

Common Grackle 4-20170402

Common Grackle 02-20170126

"Bronzed Grackle" is found in the northeastern, north central and western US:

Common Grackle 01-20160503

In Illinois at feeder:

Common Grackle 20150422

Two male Boat-tailed Grackles display on a fence rail along the boardwalk at a local nature preserve:


= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Gosia

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display



  1. I love black birds. I can sit in the park and listen to their cackling all day, watch as they check out their human counterparts.

  2. Beautiful captures of these birds, Kenneth! Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. they are handsome birds with their irridescent feathers.

  4. Very professional photography of our 'feathered friends' especially juxtaposed with the moon ~ thanks,

    Wishing you a fun weekend ~ ^_^

  5. I love grackles...and these are great photos! Super reflection of the dueling birds too!

  6. Your grackles are great.... the 2nd one reflected in the water is amazing! :)

  7. Yet another series of spectacular captures Kenneth - thank you again for sharing. Happy weekend to you and yours

  8. Interesting looking birds and what amazing eyes!

  9. These photos are phantastic! The reflection make both pictures even more special - gorgeous!

  10. Hello Ken, wonderful series on the Grackles. The reflection shots are lovely.
    Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  11. Great captures! Have a wonderful weekend!

  12. What a wonderful series of birdphotos! I really love that "female boat-tail reflection" photo - it is amazing.

  13. They really are beautiful. We have the Great-tailed Grackle here, but they are a bit of a menace! Mostly found around fast food joints, Walmart, etc. We did have a flock come into our property last year and feed in the fields for a day or two. The Mockingbirds and Scissor-tailed flycatchers were extremely upset by their intrusion. Thankfully, they didn't stick around long! Wonderful captures!

  14. Glorious Grackle Groupings & photos today! Wow, dazzling in fact.

    I'm a bit late getting around to visiting and sending along my thanks for sharing with us birders this weekend....been out birding since daybreak!!

  15. Some of the most beautiful grackle photos I've ever seen! really stunning shots!

  16. Such a funny looking bird. Great photos.

  17. Wonderful colours - these metallic sheens are great on birds.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  18. You got some wonderful poses and it's nice to learn a little more about the different ones we see here in FL. Wish some special could make some Halloween cards out of some of these. Happy May!

  19. I don't recall seeing that much blue on the grackles around here. Perhaps they're different?
    Thanks for linking up at

  20. These are gorgeous! I love how the light reflect on their feathers.

  21. Wonderful photos! The first Common Grackle photo seems to really capture its personality.
    Hope you are having a great week!

  22. Jolis reflets ;-)
    CĂ©line & Philippe


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