Family New World Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Least Concern

Carib Grackle (Quiscalus lugubris)


French: Quiscale merle German: Trauergrackel Spanish: Zanate caribeño

Quiscalus lugubris


, 1838,



Formerly placed with Q. niger in a separate genus, Holoquiscalus, but recent genetic analyses indicate present species is more closely related to Q. nicaraguensis than to other congeners. Races form two groups, “fortirostris group” (including contrusus), with blackish-brown females, and “lugubris group” (remaining six races), with paler brownish females; sometimes thought to represent two separate species, but female coloration evidently variable. Further, a molecular (mtDNA) comparison of some mainland races with island ones revealed sequence divergence of 3.9%, indicating prolonged isolation, but many island races not examined; mtDNA of two individuals from Barbados resembled distant Trinidad individuals, perhaps reflecting human introduction. More information required. Proposed race dispar (described from Kingstown, on St Vincent) refers to occasional vagrants of fortirostris. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • Q. l. guadeloupensis Lawrence, 1879 – NC Lesser Antilles (Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Marie Galante, Dominica and Martinique).
  • Q. l. inflexirostris Swainson, 1838 – St Lucia, in C Lesser Antilles.
  • Q. l. luminosus Lawrence, 1878 – the Grenadines and Grenada (S Lesser Antilles) and Los Testigos (off NE Venezuela).
  • Q. l. orquillensis (Cory, 1909) – Los Hermanos, off N Venezuela.
  • Q. l. insularis Richmond, 1896 – Margarita I and Los Frailes, off NE Venezuela.
  • Q. l. lugubris Swainson, 1838 – Carib Grackle – mainland Venezuela (S to middle and lower R Orinoco), N & NE Colombia (Orinoco Basin in Arauca and Vichada, spreading N to Guajira Peninsula and S to Meta), Trinidad and Tobago (perhaps introduced), and E along coasts of Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana to N Brazil (Amapá); also, possibly natural expansion from Venezuela, to Leeward Antilles (Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire).
  • Q. l. contrusus (J. L. Peters, 1925) – St Vincent, in S Lesser Antilles.
  • Q. l. fortirostris Lawrence, 1869 – Barbados Grackle#R#RBarbados, in S Lesser Antilles.
  • Introduced (race fortirostris) in N Lesser Antilles (N of Montserrat); nominate race said to have been introduced on Tobago from Trinidad.

    Descriptive notes

    Male average 26 cm, 66–80 g; female average 21·7 cm, 49–58 g. Male nominate race is entirely black with strong violet gloss, slightly less glossy on... read more


    Noisy. Male song varies considerably geographically, but generally a series of squeaky notes. In... read more


    Open woodland and scrub, pastures, plantations, palm groves, parks and gardens, urban and suburban... read more

    Food and feeding

    Opportunistic and omnivorous, feeding on arthropods, small vertebrates, seeds and fruits. Vertebrates taken include Anolis lizards... read more


    Breeds almost throughout year, mostly May–Sept in Trinidad and Jun–Jul in Venezuelan llanos. Monogamous, possibly... read more


    Resident. In highly seasonal environments such as Venezuelan llanos, some local movements... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to very common throughout range; locally abundant. Thrives in many modified environments. Race fortirostris was successfully... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fraga, R. (2020). Carib Grackle (Quiscalus lugubris). 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 26 February 2020).