Great-tailed Grackle

A great-tailed grackle struts along the sand with its head in the air, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
A great-tailed grackle struts along the sand with its head in the air, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

The great-tailed grackle is an interesting blackbird. Look to quickly and you might mistake it for a common crow. However, once you glimpse that long tail, you’ll know this is an entirely different beast. Even better, if you see it in this strange strutting behavior with its neck thrust up into the air, you’ll really wonder what’s going on. This is usually an indication of the male breeding display, and can be quite entertaining to watch.

A great-tailed grackle picks food items out of the washed-up seaweed, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
A great-tailed grackle picks food items out of the washed-up seaweed, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

I found a colony of grackles along a beach in western Mexico. Originally from Central and South America, the great-tailed grackle has expanded its range into North America as far north as Oregon. They can often be seen in agricultural areas, where food can be more plentiful.