It All Begins With Grackles

N.B. New writing is posted under Essays and Notes & Observations.

Tzanatl (Nahua) ‘tailed’: Zanate (or Zanate mayor) is the Mexican common name for the Great-tailed Grackle (GTGR), Quiscalis mexicanus. In Belizean kriol, it is simply Blackbird. Further south, it is called Clarinero (or Clarinero mayor). In Orioles, Blackbirds & Their Kin, ornithologist Alexander Skutch writes that in Costa Rica the males are called clarineros for their bugling behavior, while the females are called sanates.

Grackles are icterids, New World blackbirds, found from Canada to Brazil, but particularly in Central & northern South America.  There are six extant species in genus Quiscalus:

1. Great-tailed Grackle, (GTGR), Q mexicanus—the Belizean species portrayed here, breeds from Minnesota to Peru
2.  Common Grackle, Q quiscula—widespread over the eastern 2/3 of North America
3.  Boat-tailed Grackle, Q major—U.S. Gulf & Atlantic Coast endemic
4.  Greater Antillean Grackle, Q niger—of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico
5.  Carib Grackle, Q lugubris—of the Lesser Antilles & adjoining mainland coast
6.  Nicaraguan Grackle, Q nicaraguensis—of Nicaragua & Costa Rica

In addition, Q palustris—the Slender-billed Grackle—originally found in the Valleys of Mexico and Toluca, possibly a freshwater marsh specialist, is considered extinct.

Four forest-dwelling S American icterids placed in the genera Hypopyrrhus (1), Lampropsar (1) and Macroagelaius (2) are called grackles: their exact relationship to Quiscalus is uncertain.   A few mostly black-plumaged starlings, South Asian Hill-Mynahs of the genus Gracula and the Middle Eastern starling Onychognathus tristramii, may also be referred to as grackles.

What’s New?

    Mermaids’ Tails Tales: A picture more accurate than a thousand words

    Is there something fishy about mermaids? Yes, but maybe not their tails. Look again: their tails are held perpendicular to the plane of their bodies.




What’s Next?

Off-the-Grid? Or, Only At Its Far Reaches?
   
    Living off-the-grid began life meaning living without connection to an electrical power system. It represented a desire to reduce human impacts on resources and the environment by limiting power demand and generating one’s own renewable energy. But, do any of us, unless we dig the earth, hew wood and haul water, really live off-the-grid? Or do we, at best, only relocate to its further reaches?

What’s Gone Before?

    6) Linnaean Taxonomy and Greek Mythology: Till Death Do Them Part
    5) Part I Paleontology and the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis: From George Gaylord Simpson to Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould
    4) [Preliminary Post]    George Gaylord Simpson, Palaeontology and Modern
    Evolutionary Theory
    3) Don’t It Always Seem to Go/ You Don’t Know What You’ve Got/ Till You’ve Gone?
    (With Apologies to J Mitchell)
    2) Third Explanation for Sexual Size Dimorphism among Raptors—
    Why think of it as enlarged females rather than reduced males?
    1) Great-tailed Grackle As Negative Indicator Species

What’s Coming in the Long Term?

    Who Are The Birds Of Belize When They’re At Home? Migration vs. Evolution

    Where do they come from?   Where do they go?   When?

Who was it that said: “A journey of a thousand birds begins with a single grackle”?

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Epistimon@belizebirds.org

Last updated: 2 April 2014


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