Common vs. Boat-tailed Grackle

Common species are common for a reason. Just as rare species are rare for a specific purpose. Just because species are rare does not mean that they are threatened or endangered. Species will exist for as long as they have an important niche in the ecosystem. And then they will go extinct. Often, people forget the difference between interfering and practicing conservation. There's absolutely no need to hang bird feeders in the forest, for example. That is interfering. But picking up garbage and respecting a bird's nesting area are examples of practicing conservation (and decency in general).

Two things come to mind here. 1) As exciting as birding is, it's important that we not get too close/be too disruptive with our gawking and photography. 2) Also, because there are species all over the world with very specific ranges, it's important that we bring binoculars everywhere we go and bird every minute of our waking hours.

This is a bird you've all seen before. The Common Grackle.


I don't want to mislead you. I get very excited about each and every common bird. They're vital for the world around us. When people say, "You've seen a House Sparrow before Steph, what's the big deal?" I say, "But I haven't seen this House Sparrow. This particular one."

These glossy iridescent birds were filling their bills with bugs and then transporting them all over the glades. Let me zoom in so you can see just how many bugs.


Sometimes near identical birds inhabit the same space. One may be very common like our Common Grackle above and the other, less common. Like these Boat-tailed Grackles.




The main difference here is the tail. Boat-tailed Grackles have longer, more square tails. Their eyes are black instead of yellow and as you can see, the females are more brown.

The difference in range is astronomical. Common Grackles inhabit much of North America; from the Rockies eastward. But Boat-tailed Grackles stick to the Gulf of Mexico and the east coast of the United States.

Just in case you have your camera with you and are photographing birds, it pays to spare a few snaps for a bird that you think is common. Sometimes you get lucky upon returning home and realize you have captured more than one species. A look-alike!

Sandpipers are coming at you on Wednesday so be ready!