The "Boat-tailed Grackle", called "Jackdaw" in the South, has a long, "keel-shaped tail", which takes up half the bird's length. He struts along the ground with it raised high, and occasionally a good gust of wind catches it broadside, swinging the bird completely around. This grackle will also wade into water up to his breast in search of shrimp, minnows and other aquatic goodies.
The female grackle is so much smaller than her mate and, with her brown back and tail, yellowish neck, pale breast and white eyebrow and cheek, she looks like an entirely different bird altogether.
The young resemble the female until the fall molt.
The Boat-tail breeds in marshes along the East Coast and in farmland a little further inland.
Calls or song.
The "Boat-tailed Grackle" belongs to the family of Icterids, and not as musically gifted as the meadowlark, oriole or bobolink. But as a matter of fact, he is the noisiest of birds, assaulting the neighborhood with grunts, groans, shrieks, yodels and clacks. He makes up for his lack of musical talent by dramatic display, stretching his neck almost vertically while uttering a harsh "jeeb-jeeb-jeeb-jeeb".
Population and distribution.
The "Boat-tailed Grackle" ranges along the East Coast from New Jersey to Florida, and along the Gulf Coast as far as Louisiana.
The "Boat-tailed Grackle" is not parasitical as is the cowbird, but will occasionally rob songbird nests. They build their own nests of mud and decayed vegetation in a variety of places: tree holes, bushes, reedy marshes, and have been observed 'renting space' in the base of an osprey's platform. The female lays 3-4 pale blue eggs streaked with purple and brown.