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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Boat-tailed Grackle -- Quiscalus major

RANGE: Resident along the Atlantic Coast from New York to Florida, and west along the Gulf Coast to Texas.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Prefers open coastal marshes near large bodies of brackish or salt water, but also inhabits large tidal rivers short distances inland, city parks, and farmland. In Florida, inhabits inland freshwater habitats on the peninsula as well as coastal marshes. Seldom occurs more than a few miles inland.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Coastal fresh or saltwater wetlands.

NEST: Nests in colonies in cattails, bulrushes, marsh-grass, bushes, or trees, from 6 inches to 80 feet above the ground. Usually builds nest in vegetation growing in water or in branches hanging over water. Prefers to nest in marsh vegetation, often selecting marsh habitat over trees near water.

FOOD: Finds most of its food on the ground by probing in mud and litter or turning over shells or stones. Commomly forages in marshy areas, mudflats, and the margins of ponds, lakes, and streams. Eats insects, fish, frogs, crayfish, mollusks, young birds and eggs, rice, waste grains, and berries.

REFERENCES: Beal 1900, Low and Mansell 1983, McIlhenny 1937, Pruitt 1975, Selander and Giller 1961, Tutor 1962.

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