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Common or Purple Grackle

Updated on March 10, 2012

Observe the powerful beak used on mice, birds eggs, frogs and other birds.

Common Grackle

This poor guy has lost his head feathers due to mites or perhaps he's henpecked.

Common Grackle

Common grackle

The common grackle is a beautiful but nasty bird who will eat most anything from nestling birds or eggs, frogs, small fish and mice. They usually chase other birds away from our feeder where they feast on sunflower seeds. They are glossy black or browninsh black twelve-and-a-half- inch birds with beautiful yellow eyes and iridescent, purplish blue heads. They are noisy, and their harsh cacks and metallic calls are not in the least muscial. They are found throughout eastern North America and migrate south in the fall. 

Three doves and a sparrow wait for Grackle to finish his dinner.

Mr. Grackle says, "Buzz off, I'm not done yet!"

Grackle eating a sunflower seed.

Common grackle with sunflower seed

Common Grackle

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      armchair birder 10 years ago

      I love your photos of the Common Grackle! Good work!

    • Ralph Deeds profile image
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      Ralph Deeds 10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks. Grackles are beautiful but nasty birds. They chase the doves and even blue jays away from the feeder. All but the grackles and blue jays feed pretty peacefully together.

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      Allie 6 years ago

      I found a nest of five baby common purple grackles. I just need to tell the difference from the male dad and the female mom..... How do I do that? And are Purple Grackles vicious animals?

    • Ralph Deeds profile image
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      Ralph Deeds 6 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Whether or not Grackles are "vicious animals" is a matter of opinion. They aren't very popular with the other birds around our bird feeder whom they chase away. The squirrels don't like them either. I'm not sure how to tell a male from a female grackle. Thanks for your comment.

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      Majestic Lizard 6 years ago

      Females are a brownish color. Males are an iridescent purple or blue that resembles black.

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      Majestic Lizard 6 years ago

      Common Grackles only seem to peacefully coexist with Mockingbirds, House Sparrows, and Black Vultures. And Grackles will only tolerate those types of birds in much smaller numbers than the Plague (family of Grackles). If the Mockingbirds get too numerous they will chase them away. If the Sparrows get too numerous they will hunt them and eat them. If the Black Vultures get too numerous they will mob individual Vultures en masse.

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      Majestic Lizard 6 years ago

      Grackles will also chase away Crows. Though Crows are larger, they are less maneuverable and will usually flee from Grackles at the first sign of hostility. Vultures usually take a little longer to get the hint and may be injured by Grackles in the process.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image
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      Ralph Deeds 6 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for your comments. I wasn't aware that Crows are chased by Grackles. I'm more of a photographer than a birder.

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      the blue jay 6 years ago

      grackles are the smartest of the "birdfeeder" group they will 0ften get into small fights with the bluejays but the grackles win the only birds that seem to make the grackles flee are catbirds . i once seen a grackle kill a sparrow under my feeder

    • Ralph Deeds profile image
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      Ralph Deeds 6 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Grackles are mean looking birds. Thanks for your comment.

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      Brandon 6 years ago

      I just erradicate the nasty winged villans on sight. Freedom isn't free and we may have to go to war to protect it. Birdseed isn't free, either, and I'll save my little birds something to eat at any cost.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image
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      Ralph Deeds 6 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      They are nasty characters. Thanks for your comment.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image
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      Ralph Deeds 6 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      They are nasty characters. Thanks for your comment.

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      Marilyn Krantz 5 years ago

      Grackles are indeed interesting and intelligent birds, eating many more harmful insects than crop grains. If you find an injured or endangered baby or adult bird, keep it safe, warm, and if possible, fed until you can take it as quickly as possible to a licensed Wild Bird Rescue location in your area. They will rehabilitate the bird and release it into a safe area in the wild. Please note: It is illegal to keep a wild bird as a pet in the United states.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image
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      Ralph Deeds 5 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks, Marilyn. Great suggestion.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Wonderful pictures Sir!!!!!!!!!!

      It's strange - I'm a bit out of my small hometown, and we never see the Grackles out here. In town at my Grandmother's house - . . .they love that place!

      In Downtown Dallas, Texas - there are either Grackles or Pigeons everywhere. It's like street gangs, or something - the Grackle's have their turf and the Pigeon's have theirs!

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