What is this bird?

This is probably some very common bird that even an ornithological moron might know, but I’m one of those and don’t recognize it. I photographed it along the shore in Cartagena.

There’s no prize except my warm approbation.  I have other pictures of stuffed birds from the collection at the Universidad de los Andes, and will be posting them shortly, including a remarkable hummingbird.

32 thoughts on “What is this bird?

    1. Really? I thought the bill was too dark for a grackle, and she’s a bit too grey.

      But I don’t know what it is, and I’m travelling without my bird books.

    2. Wow, I thought you were just making up words and putting them together until people agreed with you.

      Man, animal names are weird.

  1. Indeed, that bird is a Great-tailed Grackle female(Quiscalus mexicanus). It´s known as Mariamulata in Colombia.

        1. Thank you! Though that only makes me more curious as to why it was so called! (I presume the name applies to both sexes of the bird…?)

  2. Dr. Coyne, if you’re out and about and are with someone who can tell you the Spanish common name of the bird, write it down and plug it into Avibase–The World Bird Database
    I just went through my entire Japanese field guide, putting in names in Katakana, and getting the bird to come up. All taxonomic names, splits, bird checklists–in short, an extremely useful site. This lifelong birdwatcher is officially *in love* with Avibase!

    1. yokohamamama – would you mind letting me know the name of your Japanese field-guide? – in Japanese if necessary. I vist Japan & am a keen birdwatcher but can’t quite manage to find a comprehensive field guide.

      1. You’re welcome :))

        My guide isn’t comprehensive, but it’s not too large, and all the names are also listed in Katakana (plus taxonomic name) plus Kanji for easy reading. The text is in Kanji, but it’s not too hard (if I can slog through it, probably anybody can:)) Here it is in Japanese:

        野鳥ーー 日本で見られる287種 判別のポイント
        (author: 真木広造
        publisher: 永岡書店)

        Hope that helps! I got some nice shots of Kisekire recently that I’m going to post on my Friday Field Notes, and hopefully will be able to get more birds up as they migrate down here for winter. BTW–if you’re in the Yokohama area, I highly recommend Maioka Park in Totsuka ward. People come from all over Japan to birdwatch there–I saw three different kinds of Snipe and the Eurasian Wryneck (Arisui)in one morning!

        Dozo, yoroshiku!

  3. Having grown up in Texas and now living in Virginia, I miss the sound of these Grackles. The males are considerably larger than the females and have a very distinctive sound. The beginning of their call is a scratching sound that, as a child, I always imagined was the grackle getting the needle on the record in his throat.

    1. “María Mulata”–Spanish is such a beautiful language.

      Very interesting about Grau, thanks for the info.

      I’ve always found something esthetically pleasing about grackle proportions…this species doesn’t seem to have the fierce look of our Common Grackle…

  4. Some kind of grackle at least, though the beak looks a little heavier than most of the ones I see here in the Houston area. There’s a few different species around here and I may not be looking too closely at them to tell the differences.

    The earlier comment about the “prefered habitat” is spot on. Grackles love sidewalks. Bus stops are the prefered habitat around here. Local birdlore is that grackles love artificial light because they can see predators better that way. They also tend to nest near heavier vecicle traffic areas, possibly to stay away from their only predator around here, domestic cats.

  5. Jerry,
    At the time I first saw this picture on the site I wanted to tell you it is the female gender of the famous shiny coal black male bird of Cartagena called Maria Mulata but I wanted to make sure that I was correct in that it is the female because everyone refers to the black bird as “she”. There is a large, black, metal statue of Maria Mulata in Cartagena as you head down to Boca Grande from the Ciudad Antigua. I googled it and there is a very good picture of both male and female together at http://www.fotothing.com. Other sites state, with a picture of the larger black male, “It is a very shiny and pretty but once your back is turned SHE will steal your food. we also have many of these birds in South Florida.
    Gayle Stone

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