Family New World Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Near Threatened

Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)


French: Quiscale bronzé German: Purpurgrackel Spanish: Zanate común

G[racula]. Quiscula


, 1758,

coast of South Carolina, USA


According to DNA data, this species is ancestral to other members of genus. In the past, races versicolor and stonei were sometimes treated as two separate species; they intergrade in E USA from Connecticut S to Louisiana, and intermediate populations were described as race ridgwayi, but such treatment is unwarranted. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • Q. q. versicolor Vieillot, 1819 – Bronzed Grackle – S Canada from E British Columbia E to S Quebec and Newfoundland, S in USA (E of Rocky Mts and W of Appalachians) to C Texas and W Mississippi; winters S to S Texas and E to South Carolina.
  • Q. q. stonei Chapman, 1935 – E USA from New Jersey and Pennsylvania S (mostly along Appalachians) to inland Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
  • Q. q. quiscula (Linnaeus, 1758) – Purple Grackle – SE USA on Atlantic and Gulf coasts from S North Carolina S to Louisiana and S Florida (including Florida Keys).
  • Descriptive notes

    Male 27·2 cm, average 119·6 g; female 26 cm, average 92·2 g. Medium-sized icterid with long wedge-shaped tail; plumage entirely black and glossy. Male... read more


    Male song a rasping “tzu-dee”, likened to sound made by a rusty gate; each male seems... read more


    Original habitat probably groves of eastern cottonwoods (Populus deltoides), American... read more

    Food and feeding

    Almost omnivorous, but rarely consumes fruits. Contents of 2346 stomachs were 30% animal food, 70% plant food, animal food peaking in... read more


    Season Mar–Jul; usually single-brooded. Mostly monogamous, sometimes successively polygynous. Nests solitarily, also in loose... read more


    Mostly resident in S of range (Gulf Coast states, Georgia and Florida). Elsewhere a medium-distance... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Common to very common throughout range. Global population in 1990 estimated at c. 90,000,000 individuals, but... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fraga, R. (2019). Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula). 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 11 December 2019).