The Boat-tailed Grackle is sexually dimorphic, and it is a large blackbird with a very long, keeled tail. Northern birds have pale eyes, while Florida and Gulf Coast birds have dark eyes.
Males are much larger than females, and are entirely blackish, with a purple gloss to the head and greenish gloss to the body.
Females are smaller than males, and are rusty-brownish in color with darker wings. They have a dark line through each eye.
Seasonal change in appearanceNone.
JuvenileJuveniles resemble winter females.
HabitatBoat-tailed Grackles inhabit beaches and coastal marshes.
DietBoat-tailed Grackles eat a widely varied diet, including aquatic insects, mussels, frogs, eggs, and seeds.
BehaviorBoat-tailed Grackles forage on the ground or in shallow water.
Boat-tailed Grackles are resident along most of the mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the U.S. The population is stable or increasing, and has expanded its range north in recent decades.
Bent Life History
Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Boat-tailed Grackle.
The shape of a bird's wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species' identification.
Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History
Boat-tailed Grackles were once considered to be of the same species as Great-tailed Grackles, but their ranges overlap along the western Gulf Coast and they do not interbreed.
There are four subspecies of Boat-tailed Grackles, helping account for the differences in eye color.
VocalizationsThe song consists of a series of high "kent" or "reet" notes as well as a variety of trills and rattles. A "chuk" call is given as well.
The Boat-tailed Grackle’s nest is a cup of twigs, grass, rushes, and weeds and is lined with finer materials. It is placed in bulrushes, cattails, or shrubs near water.
Number: Usually 2-3.
Incubation and fledging: