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Grackles

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Icteridae
Genus: Quiscalus
Species: Q. quiscula

Grackle Information    Grackle Control    Purple Grackle    Bronzed Grackle    Great-Tailed Grackle (a.k.a. Blackbird, Jackdaw) 
Pictures of Different Kinds of Grackles 

The Grackle, or common grackle, is a black bird about ten to twelve inches tall and are similar to blackbirds but have a longer tail and larger body.  The common grackle has black body feathers and pale eyes while the juvenile has brown body feathers and dark eyes that turn yellow before their first winter.  Females are smaller than males and less glossy.

The grackle is one of the most abundant breeding birds in North America.  They are found throughout the United States east of the Rocky Mountains and in Canada north of Hudson Bay up to British Columbia. These black birds commonly nest in colonies of ten to thirty pairs and sometimes up to one hundred pairs. 
The grackle forages on the ground and in shallow water looking for food.  They eat animal and vegetable food, insects, invertebrates, eggs, frogs, berries, seeds and grain. They also eat small birds and lizards and when near the coast will catch live fish.  During the winter months, they live off of plant food.

During courting, the adult grackle jerks and fluffs his body feathers, spreads his wings, poses and uses several vocalizations to increase his size in front of the female.  They breed in open and semi open areas.  Adult females lay between four to five eggs in a nest that is well concealed and usually found in a dense pine tree or shrub near water.  Sometimes they nest in cavities or in man-made structures. Their nest is usually held in place with foundation of mud or cow dung.

There are several different types of the grackle found in North America:

Purple Grackle    Bronzed Grackle    Great-Tailed Grackle (a.k.a. Blackbird, Jackdaw) 

Purple Grackle
The Purple Grackle is found in the southeast from central Louisiana to Alabama north to southern New York and Connecticut.  It is very similar to the crow.  From a distance it looks black, however when the sun strikes its feathers, they look blue or royal purple.  The purple grackle is very unpopular with other birds because it devours eggs and takes young birds from their nests.

Bronzed Grackle

The Bronzed Grackle, also known as the Crow Blackbird, is found west of the Appalachian Mountains and in New England.  They have blue green heads, a bronze back with iridescent bars and a purplish tail.  It nests from mid March to late April in trees, bushes, hollow limbs and stumps.  Secluded evergreen trees are a favorite place to nest as well as sycamore groves along streams and oak woodlands.  It is very common to see several nests in the same tree.  The bronzed grackle walks with a tall strut that imitates the crow. When turning in flight, its tail changes from horizontal to vertical, hence it is known as keel-tailed.  Picture of Bronzed Grackle 

Great-Tailed Grackle, Blackbird, Jackdaw

The Great-Tailed Grackle, also known as the blackbird, crow and jackdaw, is larger than the common grackle and is found in Texas, Kansas, Southern California and Arizona south to Peru, and Venezuela.  They have bright yellow eyes and a uniform color.  The adult female is a dusky brown color with darker wings and tail and a buff colored stripe near her eyes and throat and a cinnamon colored belly.  The term “great-tailed” comes from their tail that is almost as long as their body.
The great-tailed grackle is found in open areas with scattered trees including pastures, agricultural area, mangroves, and urban and suburban areas.  They forage with other blackbirds for food and follow tractors to get to any exposed food.  Adult males protect their young from predators but provide no other care.  They roost in large numbers outside of breeding season and are found in Central American in the center of towns.  Both the great tailed and boat tailed grackles have very long tails that crease to a v-shape when in flight.
The Boat-Tailed Grackle is usually seen less than 20 miles from the coast.  They are very similar to the great-tailed grackle but has different ranges.  Those found in Texas and along the Atlantic Coast have yellow eyes and those found in Florida, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast have browner eyes.
The adult female is a tawny brown color.  The nests of the boat-tailed grackle are built between upright stalks of marsh vegetation and mangrove bushes.  Adult females lay light blue to grayish eggs with dark streaks and blotches. They are commonly found in city parks.  Picture of Great-Tailed Grackle 

Grackles as Pests        Grackle Control

The grackle is one of the most significant agricultural pest today causing millions of dollars of damage to the farming industry by destroying sprouting corn fields.  They roost in large flocks that can overwhelm trees or buildings.
The buildup of their feces can lead to structural damage and the uric acid in their droppings can corrode stone, metal, masonry, and damage paint finishes.  The nest of the grackle can spread the disease histoplasmosis, a human respiratory disease that can be fatal.  These aggressive birds are constantly able to outwit most of the tools used to scare them off.  In San Antonio people shot off fireworks in a metal trash can under a tree where they were roosting, only to have the grackle move to the next tree.

Only two bird control devices have shown any success in controlling pest Grackles or other black birds that are considered to be pests: the Super BirdXPeller PRO  and the BroadBand Pro.  These two bird repellers are similar in operation. 
The
Super BirdXPeller PRO emits combinations of different bird distress calls as well as bird predator sounds, both of which are designed to frighten pest birds.  There are two different models of this unit; when ordering, make sure to choose the unit which is designed specifically for repelling crows, blackbirds, grackles and geese.
This particular unit for controlling different black birds has the designated item number "SBXP-PRO 2."
The
BroadBand Pro has all of the distress and predator sounds of the Super BirdXPeller Pro but also has the same synthetic scare and distress bird sounds of the CritterBlaster Pro combined with the ultrasonic waves of the 
Ultrason X outdoor units.  This means any black birds in the area of the
BroadBand Pro unit will be exposed to a rotating combination of synthesized sounds, distressed bird calls, the frightening predator sounds and ultrasonic noise.
Any time you are dealing with above average intelligent birds, changing the combination of sounds frequently will give you a better chance of success.  Merely turning on the unit and never making any changes in its settings will probably result in temporary success but long term failure.  Patience and persistence is the key.  Also, do not solely rely on a single device as a cure-all.  Removing a pest bird's food source or nesting materials (when possible) goes a long way when it comes to bird control.

Credits: Our thanks to Lani Powell for this Grackle Information page!


General Household Pest Control    Bird Control Supplies    Animals and Pests    Pest Control Supplies

Pest Site Map   Birds Index    Purple Grackle    Bronzed Grackle    Great-Tailed Grackle    Bird-X

Grackle Pictures    Grackles