Female Great-tailed Grackle Portrait In Afternoon Light

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Female Great-tailed Grackle portrait, Salt Lake County, UtahFemale Great-tailed Grackle portrait – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 800, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I’ve never once played “Angry Birds”, a video game that can be played on multiple devices and platforms, but I’d nominate this female Great-tailed Grackle to be a featured bird in that game just because to my eye she looks angry. She isn’t angry of course, she simply looks that way to some humans.

This female Great-tailed Grackle was the first bird I photographed yesterday and she was so close to me that I opted to take portraits of her in the nice afternoon light at my local pond. I don’t see Great-tailed Grackles all that often here in northern Utah so when I do I like to at least try to get photos of them instead of passing them by because I am focused on and passionate about all wild birds.

I would have liked to have gotten full body images of this female perched on something more natural than a sign but that wasn’t to be, maybe she will stick around and I’ll have another chance with her in my viewfinder again soon. I’d like that.

Life is good.


Great tailed Grackle facts and information:

Quiscalus mexicanus

  • Great-tailed Grackles are large, noisy blackbirds with long tails and long, sturdy bills. Males have yellow eyes, glossy black plumage with blue to purple iridescence. Females are about half the size of males and are a rich brown.
  • The range of Great-tailed Grackles is very rapidly expanding, historically they were found as far north as southern Texas, I have seen them now as far north as southern Montana.
  • Great-tailed Grackles eat grains, fruits, and in summer they will eat insects, bees, wasps, snails, worms, slugs, moths, small mammals, frogs, lizards, fish, bird eggs and nestlings. They will also eat food dropped in urban areas.
  • Their habitat includes fields, marshes, agricultural and urban areas, farmyards, feedlots, forests, chaparral, parks and neighborhood lawns in the southwest, Texas, the Great Plains and now the Great Basin up towards Montana then south into Mexico and Central America.
  • Great-tailed Grackles lay 3 to 4 eggs which take 13 to 14 days to hatch. The female incubates.
  • Great-tailed Grackles can live up to 13 years.


  1. Patty Chadwick November 20, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    She looks quite brown in this shot, but the male we rsised, Jack, was quite black..can’t remember what the females who lured him away looked like…too long ago…

  2. Elephants Child November 20, 2018 at 10:43 am

    What a determined looking beauty.

  3. Liz Cormack November 20, 2018 at 6:36 am

    OMGosh, the detail of the feathers is amazing. I have never seen a Great-tailed Grackle.

  4. steven kessel November 20, 2018 at 6:07 am

    Great image! But, I’m wondering — could this bird be a jv male? We have a lot of these birds living in the farmlands of southern Arizona and on the female the eye is usually quite a bit darker than that of a male. Also, females have dark crowns. Your bird’s eye strikes me as pretty pale for a female and it doesn’t seem to have a dark crown. I’m not all that familiar with juveniles, so I can’t say for sure, but I’m definitely curious about this bird.

    • Mia McPherson November 20, 2018 at 6:16 am

      Steven, from what I read on BNA male hatch year birds complete their molt to Basic I plumage by mid to late November so I would think that any hatch year males would show more male plumage characteristics by now and this bird doesn’t show that. The females I see here have eyes about the color of this bird.

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