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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

Great-tailed Grackle -- Quiscalus mexicanus

RANGE: Resident from southern California, southern Nevada, southeastern Colorado, Kansas, and southwestern Missouri south through Mexico to South America.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits a variety of climatic regions and uses a diversity of plant types for nesting. Basically needs standing water and open ground for foraging; does not occur in forests or at great distances from water. In deserts and prairie country, only occurs near water courses or irrigated agricultural areas where trees are available.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Partially open situations with scattered trees and water.

NEST: Nests colonially; builds a bulky cup nest of grass, sticks, and seaweed or Spanish moss that is lined with grass and rootlets. Locates nest 2 to 60 feet above ground in a variety of tree species or may build it in reeds over water when trees are unavailable.

FOOD: Gleans its food from the ground, occasionally wading in shallow water. Eats grains, berries, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, small fish, young birds, and eggs.

REFERENCES: Lowe and Mansell 1983, Pruitt 1975, Selander and Giller 1961.

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