Saturday, 2 February 2013

Common Grackle


order : Passeriformes      Genus & Species : Icteridae     Family : Quiscalus quiscula

The common grackle is a clever crafter, using cloth, plastic or yarn when building its nest, and an ingenious hunter that scratches, chases and leaps to find food. Sunlight enhances the glossy–black common grackle’s metallic sheen; males accentuate this feature by puffing out their feathers. They found in southern Canada and in the U.S., east of the Rocky Mountains; from British Columbia, east to Nova Scotia and Florida. 

Habitat : The common grackle is highly adaptable and has enjoyed great population success in its North American habitat. Grackles are conspicuous, sociable birds on farmland and in town gardens, open woodland, fields, swamps, parks and orchards.The grackle also lives near cities, towns and suburbs. This widespread bird winters just south of its breeding range. However, some subspecies, such as those found in Florida, remain sedentary. 
Food & Feeding : The common grackle will feed on almost anything, and it does so on the ground, in the water and in the trees. It forages in the company of many birds in trees and bushes, looking for a variety of foods, including nuts, fruit, the eggs of small birds and even young birds.The common grackle has also been known to eat salamanders, acorns, chestnuts, weeds, seeds and grain. The grackle carefully probes on the ground using its strong claws and sharp beak to scratch for worms and buried insects.Though it usually walks with slow, deliberate steps during the search for food, the grackle will often chase insects, mice or lizards, or even leap up to catch flying insects or snatch worms from out of the beaks of feeding robins. The versatile common grackle will wade into shallow water if necessary to catch aquatic creatures such as frogs, aquatic insects and crayfish. 
Behavior : The sociable common grackle is rarely seen alone. In fact, it often flocks with blackbirds, cowbirds and starlings in congregations that number in the thousands.The noisy grackles roost in large groups in the midst of evergreen forests and fly together over potential feeding grounds. In level flight, the grackle splits its long, wedgedshaped tail to form a V. Pointed wings offer these strong fliers optimum control and agility. Considered a songbird, the male common grackle marks the onset of spring with a call that resembles the grating sound of rusty hinges. Though it is unpleasant to human ears, this courtship song attracts female grackles.This extremely vocal bird has a loud voice; the grackle also emits a loud, hoarse chuk or chak wheezing song when it is threatened or in flight. 
Breeding : The common grackle is polygamous; each male often takes on multiple partners throughout the breeding season. Just before this season begins in the early spring, the grackle forms very large, noisy roosts, often with thousands of other birds. In a characteristic display performed during the mating ritual, the male lifts his head and drops his wings before breaking into song. He then puffs up his feathers to impress the female. Once paired, the birds fly off to find a nest site, which is usually located in tall coniferous trees, but can also be found in elms or maples. Other desirable nesting sites include cattail marshes and low shrubs around lakes and ponds. With no assistance from the male, the female builds a large, bulky nest of woody stems, leaves and grasses; she will even incorporate man-made materials such as fabric, cloth or plastic. As added reinforcement, she then lines the nest with mud, fine grasses and horsehair, if available.The clutch usually varies from 4–6 bluish or pinkish eggs that are blotched with brown. The female incubates the eggs for 13–14 days, and both parents tend the young until the chicks fledge 18–20 days later. 

Bill : The large, pointed bill is curved slightly downward and lacks notches. Specialized jaw muscles and a cutting ridge in the roof of the mouth work like a can opener, aiding in shelling and ripping tough food. 
Plumage : The male common grackle is glossy black all over, usually with a purple sheen, depending on the subspecies.The female is smaller, with duller black plumage. 
Feet : A perching bird, the grackle has relatively long legs and stout feet. Strong claws allow the bird to roost for long intervals, and also assist in digging through the ground for food. 
Tail : The long, wedgeshaped tail is held like a V in flight. 

Weight : 3–5 oz.
Length : 11-13.25"
Wingspan : 17-18.5"
Sexual Maturity : 1-2 years
Breeding Season : March–June 

Flight speeds of the grackle can reach up to 30 mph depending on the wind.