ICTERIDAE of North America

The Icterids are a group of small to medium-sized, often colorful birds, restricted to the New World. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. The majority of icterid species live in the tropics, although there are a number of temperate forms. They inhabit a range of habitats, including scrub, swamp, forest, and savannah. Temperate species are migratory. Icterids are variable in size, and often display considerable sexual dimorphism. Their size varies 15-52 cm. One unusual adaptation shared is they can open their bills strongly rather than passively, allowing them to force open gaps to obtain otherwise hidden food. Some use their gaping motion to open the skins of fruit to obtain the soft insides, and have long bills adapted to the process. Others such as cowbirds have shorter stubbier bills for crushing seeds. Orioles will drink nectar. The nesting habits of these birds are similarly variable. [abstracted from Wikipedia]



Grackles

Order Passeriformes    Family Icteridae

New World grackles are long-tailed blackbirds. They have stout, pointed bills that can be used for cracking hard seeds as well as digging in the soil for grubs. The males are black and can appear iridescent in the sun. Females are smaller than the males and lighter in color. Asian mynas of genus Gracula are also sometimes referred to as grackles, but they are unrelated to the New World grackles.


Genus Quiscalus

Grackle, Boat-tailed Quiscalus major   Found: North America (coastal areas from New York to Gulf Coast)
The male Boat-tailed Grackle has iridescent black plumage; long dark bill, pale yellowish or brown iris; long keel-shaped tail. Female has tawny-brown plumage with darker wings and tail.
Similar to: Brewer's Blackbird. Boat-tailed Grackle has a more massive bill.
Similar to: Common Grackle. Male and female Common Crackles resemble male Boat-tailed Grackle. Only the head of the Common Grackle is purple, while the Boat-tailed Grackle is unicolored.
Similar to: Great-tailed Grackle. Range usually distinguishes between Boat-tailed Grackles and Great-tailed Grackles. They do overlap in costal Louisiana and Texas. Great-tailed Grackle usually has a flatter head.
Image by: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) Dick Daniels - North Carolina 
1 - 4) Female 5 - 8) Male


Grackle, Common Quiscalus quiscula   Found: North America
The Common Grackle has dark plumage with iridecence on the head and shoulders; bronze wings, tail. Female is smaller, has a proportionally shorter tail; less iridesence.
Similar to: Brewer's Blackbird. Common Grackle has a more massive bill.
Similar to: Boat-tailed Grackle, Great-tailed Grackle. Male and female Common Crackles resemble male Boat-tailed Grackle and male Great Tailed Grackle. Only the head of the Common Grackle is purple, while the other 2 species are unicolored.
Image by: 1) Vitaliy Khustochka - New York  2) Kate Hannon - Massachuetts  3) Mark Watson - New Mexico  4) Pat Gaines   
    5) Charity Drake   6) Dick Daniels - New York  7, 8) Dick - North Carolina 
1) Juvenile 2. 3) Female 5 - 8) Male


Grackle, Great-tailed Quiscalus mexicanus   Found: southwest USA to South America
The male Great-railed Grackle has black plumage with an iridescnt violet-blue shean; very long tail. Female has mainly brownish-black plumage; pale brown underparts.
Similar to: Boat-tailed Grackle. Range usually distinguishes between Boat-tailed Grackles and Great-tailed Grackles. They do overlap in costal Louisiana and Texas. Great-tailed Grackle usually has a flatter head.
Similar to: Brewer's Blackbird. Great-tailed Grackle has a more massive bill.
Similar to: Common Grackle. Male and female Common Crackles resemble male Great-tailed Grackle. Only the head of the Common Grackle is purple, while the Great-tailed Grackle is unicolored.
Image by: 1,  6,  7, 8) Dick Daniels - Arizona    2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10) Dick - Panama  
1) Juvenile  2 - 5) Female  6 - 10) Male





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