It All Begins With Grackles

N.B. new writing appears as Essays/Posts or Notes & Observations.
Latest material added: 18 February 2015

    Tzanatle (Nahua)’tailed': Zanate (or Zanate mayor) is the Mexican common name for the Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus). In Belize Kriol, it is simply Blackbird. Further south it is called Clarinaro (or Clarinaro mayor). In Orioles, Blackbirds and Their Kin, Alexander Skutch explains that in Costa Rica the males are known as clarinaros for their bugling calls, while the females are called sanates.

More than 590 species of birds have been identified in Belize, possibly the most gratuitously abundant being the Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus).  (See Great-tailed Grackle As Negative Indicator Species.)  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, Q mexicanus—pictured here, breeds from Peru to Minnesota

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?

    The Art of Proxy War — The “Demerara Boy,” the ‘Unfaithful’ Mayan General and the Irish ‘British Sir’
    Imperial proxies come in all shades and ethnicities.  Though they see themselves as pursuing their own paths, they enjoy imperial support only so long as they advance the empire’s interests.  In January 1892, three such came together in Belize City: a nameless African or Afro-Caribbean acting as interpreter for a Cruzob Maya embassy; the Cruzob general Jose Crescencio Puc, who would pay the ultimate price for appearing to collaborate with the Mexicans; and Sir (Cornelius) Alfred Moloney, the Governor of British Honduras.

What’s Next?

    A Parrot by Any Other Name: Would It Squawk as Loud? (With Apologies to both W Shakespeare and D Stap)
    What’s in a name? Potentially a great deal of information without which, one is limited to vague surmises.

What’s Gone Before?

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”?


Last updated: 24 July 2015

© 2012-2015 Nathaniel Wander, PhD

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