Great-tailed grackle

The Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus, Quiscale à longue queue) is the Phoenix, Arizona version of Calgary’s Black-billed Magpie. They are common in residential areas and commercial areas with food garbage; both are long-tailed omnivores of a similar size; and they make loud, often harsh, sounds. Great-tailed Grackles are non-migratory and mostly live in the southwestern US, Mexico and Central America. I met them when J and I went to visit his folks in Mesa this past December.

23 thoughts on “Great-tailed grackle

  1. I remember seeing these birds when I stayed in Guatemala City in 1979. Waking up in a strange city and hearing their calls, I wondered what they were. More than 35 years later, I find out! 🙂

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        1. Language school in Guatemala sounds like a cool experience :-). My dad is a civil engineer. My mom remembers the grackles from when we lived in Costa Rica a year earlier. She says they would come on our lawn and we would throw them some seeds from the second floor balcony after my afternoon nap. A handful of cows, belonging to a nearby farmer, would also come to graze on our lawn.

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  2. I think the great-tailed grackle is so cool. The first one I ever saw was up close in an urban parking lot in Phoenix, and I whenever I’m in the southwest I am thrilled to see them. Thanks for this great post, wonderful photos.

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  3. That is an impressive tail! Here in Illinois we have boat-tailed grackles. Much the same, only with slightly less impressive tails. They are remarkably aggressive birds. They used to dive-bomb my poor cat, and they will dive-bomb people as well. Still, they are handsome, aren’t they?

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    1. Oo, boat-tails! I have not seen one yet.

      A few years ago, back when I lived in Vancouver and would go running a few days a week, I noticed that the crows would bomb-dive me repeatedly and chase me for blocks, while squawking super loudly, whenever I put metal barrettes in my hair. It was a bit terrifying until I thought about taking them off. Here, the magpies occasionally bomb-dive cats, squirrels and dogs. I think it is a mixture of fun and showing off their flying powers. I like going outside and seeing crows or magpies or grackles going about their city bird life.

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      1. Wow~I’ve never seen crows do that but of course, they would want the shiny barrettes ! I think you are right, they are enjoying their powers. What a happy thought. Between you and me, I love starlings. I like their plumage, and how they “talk” companionably. Most of all I love to watch their flocks swoop about together without crashing.

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        1. I like starlings too :-). They are beautiful. And make such wonderful sounds. Do they sound like a symphony of melodious UFOs to you? They have that particular whistling sound. I love suddenly hearing them. I’ve never seen large flocks of them though. Maybe some day…

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