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A photo of a Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani)
Smooth-billed Ani

Smooth-billed Ani

Crotophaga ani

The Smooth-billed Ani, Crotophaga ani, is a glossy black bird, a member of the cuckoo family. It is a medium-sized bird, with males typically weighing around 115 grams and females slightly lighter at approximately 95 grams. The species is characterized by its long tail, deep ridged black bill, and brown iris. Its flight may appear weak and wobbly, but it is quite adept at running and usually forages on the ground.

Identification Tips

To identify the Smooth-billed Ani, look for its glossy black plumage and distinctive long tail. The deep ridged bill is a key feature, setting it apart from other birds. The brown iris is also notable. When observing its behavior, note its tendency to feed on the ground and its somewhat unstable flight.

Habitat

The Smooth-billed Ani is found in open and semi-open landscapes, as well as areas under cultivation. It thrives in environments that have been altered by deforestation, which has allowed this species to become common and conspicuous in its range.

Distribution

This bird is a resident breeding species from southern Florida and the Caribbean, extending through parts of Central America, down to western Ecuador, Brazil, northern Argentina, and southern Chile. It was introduced to the Galápagos Islands around the 1960s.

Behaviour

The Smooth-billed Ani is a highly social bird, always seen in noisy groups. It is a communal creature, engaging with its peers frequently.

Breeding

Breeding for the Smooth-billed Ani involves communal efforts, with several pairs contributing to the construction of a deep cup-shaped nest lined with leaves. The nest is typically placed 2 to 6 meters high in a tree. Multiple females lay their chalky blue eggs in the communal nest, sharing the responsibilities of incubation and feeding. A female may lay up to seven eggs, and while nests can contain up to 29 eggs, usually no more than ten hatch. The incubation period lasts 13 to 15 days, with fledging occurring after another 10 days. The species can raise up to three broods per season, with offspring from earlier broods assisting in feeding the newer chicks.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Smooth-billed Ani includes termites, large insects, and other invertebrates, as well as lizards, frogs, eggs and hatchlings of other birds, and fruit. They are also known to pick off ticks and other parasites from grazing animals.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the Smooth-billed Ani as Least Concern. However, there have been noted declines in the South Florida population, which have been a concern as the state has delayed its decision on protection measures for the species.

Smooth-billed Ani Sounds



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