The Great-tailed Grackle
is a recent addition to the list of South Dakota birds, as this former specialty
of the Southwestern U.S. has been steadily expanding in numbers and range over
the last few decades. Gregarious birds, very large and noisy flocks can
sometimes be found, especially in their population strongholds further south and
west. They are very similar in appearance to the
Boat-tailed Grackle, a species found
near in the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, but not found in South Dakota.
Habitat: Can be found in a variety of open to
semi-open habitats, including farmland, marshes and wetlands, brushy forest
edges and hedgerows, and suburban areas.
Diet: Omnivorous. Food items may include any
of the following: Insects, spiders, small fish, frogs, tadpoles,
snails, crayfish, lizards, small snakes, eggs and young birds, waste grain,
seeds, fruits, berries, and nuts.
Behavior: Will forage nearly anywhere, from the
ground, in shrubs and trees, and even by wading in shallow water.
However, the majority of foraging is done on the ground.
Nesting: May and June. The hest is usually
placed in dense vegetation near water, either in thick herbaceous marsh
vegetation, or in small trees and shrubs near the water. The nest is a cup
built of grasses, weeds, and marsh vegetation. The female lays 3 or 4
eggs, and she alone incubates the eggs. The female alone feeds and raises
the young after they hatch. The young leave the nest after about 20 days.
Breeding Map: Breeding Bird Survey map
unavailable, as the species only recently started to nest in the state.
Song: A variety of loud, harsh noises.
Migration: Those at the northern part of its range
will migrate south in the fall. However, as the species expands its
range to the north, it is now over-wintering in places it never used to
Bird Feeders: Will attend feeders for various seeds
South Dakota "Hotspot": Great-tailed Grackles are
expanding their range in South Dakota, and may be found in an ever-growing
list of areas. Atkin's Slough near Tea in Lincoln County (just west of Tea)
was one of the first places where the species nested in the state, and
continues to hold birds of this species in the summer.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Great-tailed Grackle"
eNature.com: Great-tailed Grackle
Photo Information: April 17th, 2005 -- Wetland
near Tea -- Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Great-tailed Grackle photos.