Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Boat-tailed Grackle - Quiscalus major
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General Comments The Boat-tailed Grackle is a strictly coastal bird over most of its range, though it ranges throughout peninsular Florida. In North Carolina, it is an easily seen and heard bird near most types of tidal water, at all seasons. In the non-breeding season, they may move a few miles "inland", but despite their large numbers, inland strays are practically never found in the state. Boat-taileds prefer to nest in shrub thickets along the margins of salt or brackish water, but feed mainly on the ground in such marshes, along mud flats, beach shores, and lawns, often in open residential areas. After nesting, they can occur in flocks of up to a few hundred birds, often segregated by sex; they do mix with other blackbirds if near the coast.
Breeding Status Breeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S5
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Permanent resident along the coast, with little noticeable migratory movements. Generally very common along the coast; fairly common to common along the inner margins of Pamlico Sound and other tidal water extending into the Tidewater region (except scarce around most of Albemarle Sound). Sparingly "inland" to Jacksonville (Onslow), and several reports on the Pamlimarle Peninsula from Roper (Washington) and nearby Pettigrew SP. Accidental far inland -- the only such report is for a female at Fayetteville, 9 Jan 1981 [Chat 45:82 link]. Peak counts:
Piedmont No records.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips None needed along the coast.
Attribution LeGrand[2018-02-01], LeGrand[2012-11-08], LeGrand[2011-12-19]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.
NC Breeding Season Map
Map depicts assumed breeding season abundance for the species.