Greater Antillean Grackle: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Greater Antillean grackle facts are all about their appearance, habitats, and subspecies.

Greater Antillean grackles are small birds endemic to the Greater Antilles and some neighboring islands. They are also part of the family of New World blackbirds. As a result of a difference in habitat due to living on different islands, the population of these birds has been divided into seven subspecies. Although they mostly have similar characteristics, some elements, like size, weight, and sound do differ.

The Quiscalus niger crassirostris is found in Jamaica and has a smaller bill than other species. The Quiscalus niger is the smallest bird of all and is bred in Hispaniola. The Quiscalus niger caribaeus belongs to western Cuba, while the Quiscalus niger gundlachii belongs to eastern Cuba. The Quiscalus niger bangsi and Quiscalus niger caymanensis belong to different parts of the Cayman Islands, and the Quiscalus niger brachypterus belongs to Puerto Rico. They often fly with a spread tail but are mostly sedentary in their range. They only make small movements that are motivated by a necessity.

If you are fascinated by the Greater Antillean grackle, then you may want to read more facts about this bird and others. For more relatable content, check out these great-tailed grackle facts and ani bird facts for kids.

Greater Antillean Grackle

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Insects and Jamaican lizards

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

2.2 oz (62 g)

How long are they?

9.8-11.8 in (25-30 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?


Skin Type


What are their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Forests, wetlands, marine intertidal regions, urban areas


The Greater Antilles





Scientific Name

Quiscalus niger





Greater Antillean Grackle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Greater Antillean grackle?

The Greater Antillean grackle (Quiscalus niger) is a bird that belongs to the New World blackbirds family.

What class of animal does a Greater Antillean grackle belong to?

The Greater Antillean grackle belongs to the Aves class under the Passeriformes order.

How many are Greater Antillean grackles there in the world?

While their total population has not yet been determined, their extent of occurrence is found to cover 254827.4 sq mi (660,000 sq km).

Where does a Greater Antillean grackle live?

The Greater Antillean grackle tends to prefer open areas. That is why they often go to urban settings instead of dense woods. They frequently build their nests in mangroves and marshes and they usually prefer lowlands.

What is a Greater Antillean grackle's habitat?

As their name suggests, Greater Antillean grackles are endemic to the neotropical Greater Antilles and nearby islands. These neotropical islands include Cuba, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Vieques, and more.

Who do Greater Antillean grackles live with?

Greater Antillean grackles live in small colonies. They build their nests in an organized manner and in groups of up to 25 nests. These birds usually nest on the same large tree.

How long does a Greater Antillean grackle live?

These grackles can live up to an astounding 22 years in the wild, while their average lifespan is around 17 years.

How do they reproduce?

These species show monogamous behavior. To signal an interest in mating, they display slightly fanned and raised tails with fluffed plumage, known as 'ruffing out'. While the male resorts to the former routine, the female tends to perform songs and also, in some cases, displays ruff-outs. Depending on the island, the Greater Antillean grackle mates from the months of April until September. They usually have a clutch size of about three to five eggs, which are pale with dark marks. Mothers incubate these eggs for a duration of about 23-25 days. According to research, they reject eggs from other species and reject brood parasitism. Their nest is made up of strong stems and grasses.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, they have been classified as a species of Least Concern, so their population is not at any risk.

Greater Antillean Grackle Fun Facts

What do Greater Antillean grackles look like?

While they're predominantly black in color, their color differs only a small amount. Male Greater Antillean grackles have glossy black plumage, whereas females have less glossy but still black plumage. The male bird also has an iridescent purple shimmer which complements the black coloring. While the male has a large tail that is rudder-like, the female has a smaller tail. This bird has a yellow eye, which is the only part of its body that is not black. The juvenile bird of this species has a brownish-black plumage with dark brown eyes.

Their sizes also differ according to their subspecies. While Greater Antillean grackles found in Cuba are smaller than most others, grackles found in Puerto Rico are the largest. Even their bill sizes and bill shapes are said to differ among these subspecies. While birds from Jamaica are said to have a smaller bill, those from Vieques Island have a decurved tip.

Greater Antillean grackles facts are fun to read.

How cute are they?

While not exactly cute, they can be called majestic like the little crow. Their black plumage accentuates and complements their goldenrod yellow eyes.

How do they communicate?

Like other birds from their habitat, these birds are assumed to communicate through body signals and songs.

How big is a Greater Antillean grackle?

A male Greater Antillean grackle (Quiscalus niger) is slightly larger than an average-sized bird. It is about 9.8-11.8 in (25-30 cm) in length. In comparison with the palm warbler, the Greater Antillean grackle is a large bird. However, it is slightly smaller than a common grackle. A common grackle has a length of about 11-13.4 in (28-34 cm), which is slightly larger than other species of grackle.

How fast can a Greater Antillean grackle fly?

There is no official data published about the Greater Antillean grackle's flight speed.

How much does a Greater Antillean grackle weigh?

Greater Antillean grackles weigh about 2.2 oz (62 g), which is quite low for their size. The common grackle weighs about 3.8 oz (110 g) on average with only a slightly larger size. They still weigh more than some other species in their habitats.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female Greater Antillean grackle (Quiscalus niger) birds are referred to as a 'cock' and 'hen' respectively.

What would you call a baby Greater Antillean grackle?

Baby birds are usually called chicks or fledglings.

What do they eat?

This species is omnivorous, meaning that these birds eat seeds, be it wild or cultivated, such as maize and rice. They also eat a variety of insects. They prey on Anolis lizards, some Jamaican anoles (though only medium-sized ones), grassquits, and the common ground dove. They are also known to feed on the fruits of gumbo limbo, also known by their scientific name of Bursera simaruba.

Are they dangerous?

This species of bird is known to be very territorial and aggressive and they can swoop down and attack if they feel threatened. Since they also flock together, this can be particularly harmful. Also, their droppings can carry disease-causing microorganisms.

Would they make a good pet?

With their mean and aggressive nature, it is usually not a good idea to keep pet birds of this species. If you're looking for some pet birds, there are other neotropical species such as motmots or ovenbirds that might be more suitable.

Did you know...

This species of bird is also known by several other names. The subspecies found in the Dominican Republic is called by the names of 'kling-kling' and 'chinchilin'. The bird is also called 'chango' in Puerto Rico.

Sounds of Greater Antillean grackle birds

This species of bird has a unique sound. They have a raspy call, which is used to call on their fledglings. It has a call that sounds like 'chak-chak' or 'chin-chin-chi-lin'. They also use a high and harsh 'wee-si-si' sound. However, birds of this species in Puerto Rico also have a further distinction as they are noisier and have somewhat of a metallic tone to their calls.

Are Greater Antillean grackles pests?

Yes. Since these birds like to feed on maize seeds and other crops they can be described as pests. Although they like open spaces, they still reside in urban and rural areas because of their dependence on crops and other fruit-yielding trees found in these places. These birds are a huge menace to farmers, and homeowners, because they gather in large numbers, making them extremely harmful and dominant.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our yellow-crowned night heron fun facts and common nighthawk interesting facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable grackle coloring pages.



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