Why is the Groove-Billed Ani an Elusive Belize Bird

The Lodge at Chaa Creek in western Belize is home to over 308 species of resident and migratory birds, making Chaa Creek’s 365 private acre nature reserve one of the best bird watching locations in Belize. On our daily guided tours you will have a chance to see birds like the Keel-billed Toucan, Blue-Crowned Mot-Mot, Violaceous Trogan, Grey-necked Wood-Rail, Collared Forest Falcon, and a host of parrot species.

And then there is the groove-billed ani, an elusive and mystery bird.

The above photo is of the groove-billed ani, Crotophaga Sulcirostris, a bird of savannas and open spaces. It has a fairly general diet and feeds on fruits, seeds and insects. The groove-billed anis is an unusual bird because they live in small groups consisting of one to five breeding pairs. As a group, these birds defend their territory, and they also lay eggs in one communal nest where all of the group members incubate the eggs and care for the young.

A medium-sized black bird with iridescent blue and green overtones, the groove-billed ani has a very long tail (half the length of the bird) and its bill is huge with arched ridge and narrow grooves.

When the groove-billed ani is flying, their long tail, which appears as if on a hinge, swings up and down and from side to side like a pendulum, and looks as though it might drop off. Its membership in the cuckoo family is revealed by its two-toes-forward, two-toes-back foot arrangement. Groups of anis are collectively known as a “cooch”, “orphanage”, and “silliness” of anis.

It is a resident species throughout most of its range from southern Texas, central Mexico and The Bahamas, Central America, to northern Colombia and Venezuela, and coastal Ecuador and Peru. It only retreats from the northern limits of its range in Texas and northern Mexico during winter. Like other anis, the Groove-billed is found in open and partly open country, such as pastures, savanna, and orchards.

Want to know more about the birds of Belize? Then check out our birding page http://www.chaacreek.com/birdsofbelize/.

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