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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Jul 7, 2011

Boat - tailed Grackle

Peeking over the top
The Boat-tailed Grackle is a bird I came across on the docks, behind our hotel in Miami while on holiday.  The male of the species is quite large, just a bit smaller than a crow, and slimmer.  He is black with purple iridescence and green gloss on a long keeled tail. 

The female is somewhat smaller in size, and colored in various shades of brown and tan.  Her tail is somewhat shorter than the male's. The female featured here was quite bold, while the males tended to fly off if you got too close.  The males also seemed to cluster together in groups.

Boat-tailed Grackle male
The Boat Tailed Grackle is an exclusive resident of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast.   This species is omnivorous.  It's diet consists of insects, minnows, frogs, eggs, berries, seed and grain.  It typically forages on the ground, in shallow water or in low shrubs.  Like some other bird species, such as Ravens and Crows, the Boat Tailed Grackle has embraced human communities and so can also be seen foraging in garbage bins, dumpsters and parking lots. 

The female of the species chooses her mate.  The pairing is temporary and it is the female that builds the nest, incubates the eggs and raises the young, all without the aid of the male.  However, it appears that the males do compete to protect the females and the nesting colony.

Female touches down

Female Boat-tailed Grackle
The males also compete for the notice of females with elaborate courtship displays, but once a female has chosen her mate, the rest of the males drop out of the competition.  I must say that I quite enjoyed watching these birds as they flew from the roof of one boat to the next, or one tree to another with their loud calls.  Their behavior was quite entertaining, the female's especially so. 

For more information on this species of bird just follow these links:


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