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Quiscalus niger

Greater Antillean Grackle

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Icteridae


Quiscalus niger

Caleta Buena, Ciénaga de Zapata BR, Matanzas, Cuba; 10 November 2012 © Jerry Oldenettel

As its name suggests, the Greater Antillean Grackle is almost confined to the Greater Antilles, where it occurs on all four main islands, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico, but the species is also found on the Caymans. Seven subspecies are generally recognized across this range, some of them restricted to small islands, and they typically differ in the extent and color of the glossy tones to the plumage. Overall, the species appears glossy black with almost startlingly yellow eyes, and an unusual keel-shaped tail, which is slightly less developed in the female, and which one almost expects the bird to use as a ‘rudder’ in flight. Greater Antillean Grackles sometimes form large roosts, frequently nest in colonies on trees, and forage mainly on the ground, seeking out seeds and insects, but also taking a wide variety of other prey, including small lizards and even human scraps. These are noisy, bold birds, confident around Man, and very much ‘at home’ in heavily disturbed habitats.

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Recommended Citation

. 2010. Greater Antillean Grackle (Quiscalus niger), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

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