Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major westoni) 3 April 2014. Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Palm Beach County, Florida, USA.

These showy blackbirds are common in wetlands and in settled areas throughout Florida. Upper two photos are male, lower is female. Formerly lumped with the Great-tailed Grackle, this species was split by the AOU in 1973 based on sympatric breeding in Louisiana. Eye color varies geographically with the race Q. m. westoni having dark eyes. It is found throughout peninsular Florida.

According to BNA there are four subspecies of Boat-tailed Grackle, three of which breed in Florida: "Q. m. torreyi breeds from Long I., New York to n. Florida, Q. m. westoni breeds throughout most of peninsular Florida to the central panhandle of Florida, Q. m. alabamensis breeds from w. Florida to w. Alabama, Q. m. major breeds from e. Louisiana to e. Texas."

This treatment follows "Stevenson, H. M. 1978. The populations of Boat-tailed Grackles in the southeastern United States. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 91:27-51." This publication is available for free online. Here is the map showing the distribution of subspecies. Stevenson attributed reports of light-eyed Boat-tailed Grackles in Florida to other subspecies, some of which may migrate into Florida during winter.

BNA says, "Eye color varies: group on Atlantic Coast north of n. Florida has light (straw-colored) eyes; Florida peninsula, dark; w. Florida to e. Louisiana, light; west of e. Louisiana, dark." These descriptions correspond directly to the four named subspecies.

Post, W., J. P. Poston and G. T. Bancroft. 1996. Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: doi:10.2173/bna.207.

Nikon P510 Coolpix Point-and-shoot.
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