Family New World Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Least Concern

Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major)


French: Quiscale des marais German: Bootschwanzgrackel Spanish: Zanate marismeño

Quiscalus major


, 1819,

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA


Closely related to Q. mexicanus; occasional hybrids between the two reported along coast of S USA (in Texas and Louisiana). Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • Q. m. torreyi (Harper, 1934) – E USA from Long I (New York) S along coast to N Florida.
  • Q. m. westoni (Sprunt, 1934) – most of peninsular Florida.
  • Q. m. major Vieillot, 1819 – SE Texas E along coast to extreme SW Mississippi.
  • Q. m. alabamensis Stevenson, 1978 – S Mississippi E along coast to NW Florida.
  • Descriptive notes

    Male average 39·9 cm, 154–239 g; female average 27·5 cm, 93–147 g (torreyi). Male nominate race is entirely black, with violet gloss on... read more


    Song, by both sexes (female more rarely) during display, a series of sharp “kip” notes... read more


    Brackish to freshwater marshes along coast, and bordering estuaries of main rivers. Nowadays also... read more

    Food and feeding

    Opportunistic and omnivorous. Feeds on small vertebrates, invertebrates, wild and cultivated seeds, tubers (e.g. potatoes), carrion,... read more


    Season Mar–Jul, and egg-laying highly asynchronous; autumnal breeding (Nov) reported in Florida. Breeds in colonies of two to c. 200... read more


    Largely resident. Longer-winged N race torreyi a partial short-distance migrant, some... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to locally abundant. Tolerates habitat modifications. Has expanded its range N & W.

    Recommended citation

    Fraga, R. (2019). Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 November 2019).