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Common Grackle

Quiscalus quiscula

Length: 11 to 13 inches Wingspan: 17 to 19 inches Seasonality: Summer / All Seasons
ID Keys: Pale yellow eyes, bronze body with dark bluish head, slightly iridescent sheen

Common Grackle - Quiscalus quisculaA very common summer resident, often found in residential areas, the Common Grackle can often be heard singing its harsh, grating song from treetops and roofs.  They often nest in small colonies, and can form huge mixed flocks with other blackbirds in the fall and winter.  They are the smallest of the three Grackle species found in the U.S.  The larger Great-tailed Grackle is found in the Great Plains and the southwestern U.S. and has recently expanded their range into South Dakota, while the larger Boat-tailed Grackle is found near the Gulf and Atlantic coasts and is not found in South Dakota.


Farmland, towns, woodlands, marshes, shelterbelts.  Prefers dense tree cover next to open spaces for nesting.


Omnivorous. Eats seeds, waste grain, fruits and berries, insects, crustaceans, earthworms, frogs, and small rodents. They will also raid nests for eggs and young birds.


Does a great deal of foraging by walking along the ground.  Will also forage low in bushes, forest undergrowth, and sometimes higher in the forest canopy.  Gregarious, often foraging in large flocks outside of the breeding season.


May through July in South Dakota.  Common Grackles typically nest in relatively small, loose colonies.  The nest is a cup of grasses, weeds and twigs, placed in the branches of a dense tree or shrub, or sometimes in a tree cavity or cavity in a man-made structure.  The female lays 4 or 5 eggs, and she alone incubates them.  Upon hatching, both parents feed the young. The young leave the nest after about 15 to 20 days.


Common Grackles have a highly variable repertoire, with a variety of squeaks, rattles, and croaking sounds.


Winters in southeastern U.S., but may overwinter in southern parts of the state.  

Interactive eBird Map:

Click here for an interactive eBird map of Common Grackle sightings

Similar Species:

Similar to some other grackle species, and could potentially be confused with some blackbird species if not seen well.

Great-tailed Grackle 8 - Quiscalus mexicanus Great-tailed Grackle 5 - Quiscalus mexicanus Boat-tailed Grackle - Quiscalus major Brewer's Blackbird - Euphagus cyanocephalus
Great-tailed Grackle Great-tailed Grackle Boat-tailed Grackle Brewer's Blackbird

Bird Feeders:

Will attend feeders for various seeds, bread crumbs, and suet.

Conservation Status:

Generally common and widespread in many areas, with a broad geographic range. However, records in recent decades have shown sharp declines (although the rate of decline has slowed considerably recently). Populations are still strong however, and the species is under no serious threat at this time.  The IUCN lists the Common Grackle as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information:

Photo Information:

May 2nd, 2020 -- Brandon, South Dakota -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos:

Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Common Grackle photos.

Audio File Credits:

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Common Grackle - Species Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common summer resident throughout the state.  Rare in winter, primarily in the southeastern part of the state.

Additional Common Grackle Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos

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