In a Costa Rican garden: Groove-billed Ani

The Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) is another species that is expanding its range as deforestation occurs and land is given over to pasture. There are two ani species in Costa Rica but the Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani) is found in Costa Rica only in the southern Pacific area, where it is rapidly extending its range, in part at the expense of the Groove-billed. The name ani is thought to come from the indigenous Tupi language of Brazil. It is a member of the cuckoo family but is not a brood parasite and builds its own nest.

A group of Groove-billed Anis lines up on a low wire at El Coco, Siquirres, in the Caribbean lowlands. Photo by John Beer.

This very gregarious and chiefly resident species can be found in lowland areas from southern Texas to coastal Peru. In my garden it arrives from my neighbour’s cattle pasture as soon as I begin mowing my few grassy areas. There are always several birds each time and they approach fearlessly within just a few feet to feed on the insects disturbed during the mowing.

Note the rather humped shape of the bill and the long, floppy tail in the close-up of this Groove-billed Ani at nearby Santa Rosa; photo by John Beer

Here’s another file photo from the CATIE grounds down at Turrialba:

Groove-billed Ani at CATIE; photo by John Beer

Finally, here’s a rather comical looking juvenile who has not yet acquired the long, almost disjointed-looking tail of the adult birds:

Juvenile Groove-billed Ani, not long out of the nest, at Angostura Dam, Turrialba; photo by John Beer.

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