Family New World Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Least Concern

Greater Antillean Grackle (Quiscalus niger)


French: Quiscale noir German: Antillengrackel Spanish: Zanate antillano

Oriolus niger


, 1783,

Port-au-Prince, Haiti


Formerly placed with Q. lugubris in a separate genus, Holoquiscalus, but recent genetic analysis indicates that Q. lugubris is closer to Q. nicaraguensis. The same DNA study revealed moderate sequence divergences among four populations of present species (Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico). Existence of two races in Cuba possibly due to fact that gundlachii evolved later and is slowly replacing caribaeus on main island; the two intergrade in W Cuba (Pinar del Río). Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • Q. n. caribaeus (Todd, 1916) – extreme W Cuba (Pinar del Río), and I of Pines and adjacent cayos.
  • Q. n. gundlachii Cassin, 1867 – Cuba (E from Pinar del Río), including N cayos and Jardines de la Reina Archipelago.
  • Q. n. caymanensis Cory, 1886 – Grand Cayman I.
  • Q. n. bangsi (J. L. Peters, 1921) – Little Cayman I; formerly also Cayman Brac.
  • Q. n. crassirostris Swainson, 1838 – Jamaica.
  • Q. n. niger (Boddaert, 1783) – Hispaniola.
  • Q. n. brachypterus Cassin, 1867 – Puerto Rico and Vieques I.
  • Descriptive notes

    25–30 cm; male 86·6–100 g and female 60–72·5 g (Cuba), male 67·5–88 g and female 51–64 g (caymanensis), male mean 112 g and female 79·3 g (crassirostris),... read more


    Song varies considerably among islands, but (for a grackle) is relatively musical, a metallic “... read more


    Mangroves, marshes, savanna, coconut (Cocos nucifera) plantations, open fields,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous. Feeds on wild and cultivated seeds, including those of maize (Zea mays) and rice; takes insects and other arthropods;... read more


    Season Feb–Sept, mainly Apr–Jul/Aug; Mar–Jul in Cuba. Mating system not well known. Colonial breeder, in trees; colonies in mangroves... read more


    Resident. Local movements to areas with fruiting trees reported from Jamaica.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to abundant throughout range, especially in lowlands. Often lives in towns and other modified habitats. Populations in smaller Cayman Is have... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fraga, R. (2020). Greater Antillean Grackle (Quiscalus niger). 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 28 January 2020).