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Large Glossy Black Bird with Flanking White Tail Feathers

black bird glossy black white tail feathers

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#1 bjwtaylor

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 10:44 PM

Can anyone help me identify a large, glossy black bird with flanking white tail feathers, please? (Sorry, I can't get a photo of him so far.)

He seems shaped much like a crow, but I can't find him in my books or online at all under "crows," "blackbirds," "grackles," or anything else. And the photos of those birds don't show white tail feathers and descriptions don't mention them. I've looked at every black bird I could find and not seen one like this one.

He's big, large enough to be a crow, but he's a little on the sleek and slender side. His bill is long, sharp, and somewhat hooked downward, and his tail has white feathers on each side.

When I say "black," that's exactly what I mean. Black as coal and very shiney, except for those snow white tail feathers that don't show much except when he spreads the tail. (Yes, they are really white feathers; he didn't pick up paint or anything of the sort.)

He appeared on the lawn outside my window, apparently eating cracked sunflower seed, millet, or corn that had fallen out of a feeder, and wasn't aggressive enough to chase other birds away. And he's alone. Normally, when we have crows show up, they are usually in fairly large numbers.

This was in suburban, but heavily wooded Charlotte, NC (south NC right at the SC border, i.e. very temperate climate) on a beautiful, sunny spring afternoon.

Thanks for any ideas you might have.

#2 Limpkin

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 01:31 AM

Welcome to Whatbird! I've seen multiple Grackles with amelanistic/leucistic (white) tail feathers, and they match your description pretty well. Both Boat-tailed Grackles and Common Grackles are in range for you, and both often show white feathers. This is a deformity, but is pretty common in some species, and different individuals will show different white feathers.

Here's a photo (not mine) of a partially amelanistic Common Grackle, who has slightly more white than your bird does:
http://2.bp.blogspot...d Grackle 2.jpg

Does that match up to your bird at all? If you ever get a photo, definitely post it!





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