N.B. New writing is posted under Essays/Posts and Notes & Observations.
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, ornithologist 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 abundant of which is the Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus). 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 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.