The Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major) is a large, black bird with a long, keel-shaped tail that resembles a boat. They are one of the largest grackles in North America, measuring 14-18 inches in length and weighing between 4.3 and 6.4 ounces. The males are larger and have iridescent black feathers that reflect blue and purple hues in the sunlight, while the females are brown with lighter underparts.
One of the most distinguishing features of the Boat-tailed Grackle is its long, V-shaped tail, which is almost as long as its body. The tail is also broader and flatter than other grackles, which gives it a distinctive appearance. In addition to its tail, the Boat-tailed Grackle has a thick, pointed bill that is adapted for cracking open tough seeds and nuts.
Boat-tailed Grackles are found in coastal regions from New Jersey to Texas, and they also inhabit the Caribbean and Central America. While some populations are resident year-round, others migrate in the fall to southern Florida, the Bahamas, and Cuba. In the summer, Boat-tailed Grackles breed in coastal marshes and wetlands, building their nests in trees or shrubs near water.
Boat-tailed Grackles are omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods, including insects, small fish, fruits, grains, and seeds. They are opportunistic feeders and will scavenge for food in urban areas and at garbage dumps. Boat-tailed Grackles are also known for their loud, raucous calls, which can be heard throughout their range.
Despite being a common sight in many coastal areas, Boat-tailed Grackles are declining in some regions due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Conservation efforts are underway to protect their wetland habitats and encourage sustainable land use practices that benefit this species and other wetland-dependent wildlife.