Smooth-billed Ani

Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani)
Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani)
Smooth-billed Ani

Order : Cuculiformes
Cuculiformes are group of birds made up of two distinct families, the Turacos (Musophagidae) made of 20 species found only in Africa, and Cuckoos (Cuculidae) containing around 127 species from around the world. The Cuckoos are an ancient group with no living near relatives, even the turacos are quite distinct with no intermediate connecting species. Cuckoos display a large variation on breeding habits as some are brood parasites, others make regular nests while others make communal nests.

Family : Cuckoos and Anis (Cuculidae)
Ani’s consist of three tropical American species that make up the genus Crotophaga, subfamily of the Cuckoo family Cuculidae. All three are similar in appearance where the Smooth-billed or Common Ani (Crotophaga ani) which is recorded in Florida, West Indies, Central and South America,can be distinguished from the slightly larger Grooved Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) which has three distinct grooves in the upper mandible and ranges from southern North America through Central America to Northern South America. The largest aptly named the Greater Ani (Crotophaga major) which is found in the West Indies, Mexico and South America mainly east of the Andes. Apart from slight physical differences all three species display similar characteristics as described for the Smooth-billed Ani.

Name : Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani)

An all black cuckoo, though the black is made up of intricately patterned blue and brown feathers, the Ani is easy to identify due to it’s distinctive curved bill. The tail, which, like other cuckoos, broadens towards the end and then tapers at the tip consists of only 8 feathers, which the bird uses to steady itself on what often appear to be precarious landings. The Ani live in groups of about twelve and feed mainly on grasshoppers and insects found at ground level. It is usual for at least one member of the group to remain on an open perch and sound the alarm, a shrill repeated ‘wer-ik’ at the approach of danger. The call is also used as members of the group fly with alternate glides to another location informing remaining members still feeding on the ground that the group is moving. The nest is a communal affair where several females usually deposit their eggs in layers, more or less separated by leaves, in a large bulky nest in the centre of a bush or tree. The lower eggs fail to hatch. The young are fed and guarded by all members of the group.

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Bird identification images

Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani) Birds of Tobago

Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani) Cuckoo of West Indies

Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani) juveniile