A very common summer
resident, often found in residential areas, the Common Grackle can often be
heard singing its harsh, grating song from treetops and roofs. They often
nest in small colonies, and can form huge mixed flocks with other blackbirds in
the fall and winter. They are the smallest of the three Grackle
species found in the U.S. The larger
Great-tailed Grackle is found in the
Great Plains and the southwestern U.S. and has recently expanded their range
into South Dakota, while the larger
Boat-tailed Grackle is found near the Gulf and Atlantic coasts and is not
found in South Dakota.
Habitat: Farmland, towns, woodlands, marshes,
shelterbelts. Prefers dense tree cover next to open spaces for nesting.
Diet: Omnivorous. Eats seeds, waste grain,
fruits and berries, insects, crustaceans, earthworms, frogs, and small rodents.
Behavior: Does a great deal of foraging by walking
along the ground. Will also forage low in bushes, forest undergrowth,
and sometimes higher in the forest canopy. Gregarious, often foraging
in large flocks outside of the breeding season.
Nesting: May through July in South Dakota.
Common Grackles typically nest in relatively small, loose colonies. The
nest is a cup of grasses, weeds and twigs, placed in the branches of a dense
tree or shrub, or sometimes in a tree cavity or cavity in a man-made structure.
The female lays 4 or 5 eggs, and she alone incubates them. Upon hatching,
both parents feed the young. The young leave the nest after about 15 to 20 days.
Migration: Winters in southeastern U.S., but may
overwinter in southern parts of the state.
Bird Feeders: Will attend feeders for various seeds,
bread crumbs, and suet.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Common Grackle"
Photo Information: April 9th, 2004 -- Brandon,
South Dakota -- Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Common Grackle photos.