If you have ever found yourself enjoying the tranquil atmosphere at the Village Lakes Community ponds in Highland, you would notice that you are surrounded by an abundance of wildlife.

The cacophony of sounds in the air, on the ground and in the trees, tells you that nature abounds.

One of the avian beauties that resides at the Village Lakes Community is the Great-tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus).

The grackle is a sleek medium-sized bird that can be found in South and North America.

Its size ranges from 15 inches to almost 20 inches.

A first glance, the grackle appears to be solid black in color.

When the bird’s feathers glisten in the sun, you will notice its glossy feathers of purple, green and bronze. The iridescent sheen is quite distinct and remarkable to see.

Their eyes are yellowish in color.

What is unique about this bird is that the male has a long-pronounced keeled tail. It is tilted upwards.

The female grackle’s tail is not keeled like the males. The tail is so long, it appears to be the length of the body.

Grackles have long legs. When they walk across fields or search along the banks of ponds and lakes, they appear to be strutting as they look for food.

The grackle is a social bird. You might hear several of them calling to each other and flying to and from trees.

The grackle is an omnivore. That is, it eats meat and plants.

Its diet consists of berries, seeds, fruit, lizards, frogs, millipedes, spiders, small fish and other small creatures that live in and by the ponds.

They are even known to prey on the nestlings of other birds.

Having long legs, grackles can wade in shallow water to find their prey.

It is a boisterous bird with a loud piercing call.

At times, the male grackle will call from its perch. The tail feathers will spread out like a fan and its body seems to inflate with ruffled feathers.

While the male grackle is glossy in appearance, the female is colored in a muted combination of shades of brown.

Female birds are typically colored in earth tones to blend in with the environment, which allows them to avoid lurking predators.

The next time you visit a pond or lake, see if you can observe the great-tailed grackle.

You might see one wading in the shallows to find its next meal.

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