People passionate about nature

Common Grackle

Above: Common Grackle (photo: Cam Nikkel)

What Does It Look Like?

The Common Grackle is a large blackbird with long legs and tail, the latter of which makes up nearly half of its overall length.  The bill is long and sturdy.  Irridescent purple, green and blue highlights to the glossy black feathers give a jewelled appearance to the adult male, particularly around the head.  Adult females are browner overall and slightly smaller than their male counterparts.  Both sexes have yellowish eyes.

Above: Common Grackle, Gimli, MB (photo: Peter Taylor)

Does It Migrate?

This species winters from southern Minnesota to the Great Lakes region and south to Texas.

Where Does It Live?

Common Grackles breed from southern Northwest Territories and northeastern British Columbia and across Canada to the Gulf of St. Lawrence (also nests through the Great Plains region to Texas and eastward across the US).  Nests, built by the female, are usually constructed in coniferous trees and often near a water source.

Above: Common Grackle, Pinawa, MB (photo: Peter Taylor)

Where Can I See It?

Areas near human habitation are often favoured, such as city parks, cemetaries and hedgerows.   Common Grackles are also found at forest edges and marshes, and agricultural fields.  Suburban retention ponds are also commonly frequented.

Above: Group of Common Grackles, Pinawa, MB (photo: Peter taylor)


This species appears to be in widespread decline.  Numbers in Manitoba are considered fairly stable.  Seen as a significant pest species (crops), there are no current conservation initiatives.

Above: Common Grackle (photo: Bob Shettler)

Did You Know?

You may not wish to plant marigolds in your garden if you have Common Grackles nesting in or near your yard – Common Grackles sometimes pluck and rub the petals, which contain pyrethrum, on their feathers as an insect repellent!