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jerry jackson
Photographed by Bette Jackson

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Source: Blackbirds 3

Length of Segment: 00:01:16

Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Perhaps the most conspicuous member of the blackbird family in Florida is the boat-tailed grackle, a bird that gets its name from the long tail of the male. This is that shiny blackbird that you've seen strutting around the parking lots of fast-food restaurants and edges of urban lakes, as well as along our beaches and similar natural habitats. Take a look at that tail. He holds the outer tail feathers much higher than the central ones, forming a very distinct 'V', like a boat's hull. He also holds the tail end in 'V' as he flies, making this bird very easy to identify. The female boat-tail grackle is smaller than the male, without such a distinctive tail. He is black, showing iridescent blue and green all over; she is rich cinnamon-brown. While both frequent parking lots, under more natural conditions, the sexes often go their own ways. The sexes of birds, like people, often use available resources differently. Female boat-tailed grackles build a nest and care for eggs and young. Each male stays busy strutting and defending a group of several females from other males. Females tend to feed more in marshy areas, and males more in the open.

'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.

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