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Great-Tailed Grackle Breeding in New Mexico

Roger T. Peterson
5 (September-October)
From Field and Study
Online Text:

Great-tailed Grackle Breeding in New Mexico

On May 5, 1939, while motoring southward along the Rio Grande with my wife and Mr. Edward Chalif, I was surprised to see several Great-tailed Grackles (Cassidix mexicanus mexicanus) at a point about ten miles south of Albuquerque in the central part of the state of New Mexico; both males and females were present and apparently were breeding.

We saw grackles at several other points along the river farther down on our way to Las Cruces. Our casual observations seemed to indicate that they were fairly well distributed in suitable places along the river. We were surprised to see so many individuals at so many scattered points, but were even more surprised the following day, May 6, when we saw several more in the city of Lordsburg in the southwesternmost part of the state. On investigation, we found that they had actually been nesting; a dozen or more unoccupied nests were observed in the wind-swept cottonwood trees near the railroad yards. One young bird just out of the nest was seen.

Upon inquiring about the grackles, we learned from a machinist in the train yard that the birds had put in their appearance in considerable numbers four years before and had been there ever since. He said that most of the young had left the nests about a week before our arrival. Lordsburg is very near the Arizona line and a considerable distance from any large body of water.

In as much as Mrs. Bailey (Birds of New Mexico, 1928, pp. 658-659) gives comparatively few records of this species for the state of New Mexico, and only two nesting records (a colony in the southeastern part of the state on the Pecos River and one pair at La Mesa) it would seem that this bird must be extending its range. We looked for Great-tails in southeastern Arizona but did not see any. The fourth edition of the A.O.U. Check-list (1931, p. 308) does not include New Mexico in the range of this species.

Roger T. Peterson

National Association of Audubon Socities, New York City, July 20, 1939

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