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Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris


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Groove-billed Ani, adult perched
credit: Hans Hillewaert/CCSA

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Family: Cuculidae, Cuckoos, Roadrunners, Anis view all from this family

Description ADULT Appears uniformly black, although oily blue-green iridescence can be seen in good light. Nape and throat appear shaggy. Bill is large, dark, and laterally flattened; curved upper margin continues profile of crown and does not show such pronounced dorsal ridge as in Smooth-Billed Ani. Close inspection of bill reveals obvious horizontal grooves on upper mandible. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but bill lacks grooves.

Dimensions Length: 12" (30 cm)

Habitat A mainly Central and South American species with a foothold in southern Texas, where it is present mainly May-Sep. Usually associated with dense scrub and woodland beside river courses, but sometimes feeds in more open, grassy situations. Most birds winter in Mexico, where species is resident, but a few are found in coastal south Texas.

Observation Tips Easiest to find when fledged young have joined feeding groups, in late summer.

Range Great Lakes, Texas, Southwest, Florida, Plains, Southeast

Voice Utters a distinctive, repeated, piping tee-wuup, tee-wuup.

Discussion Engaging and distinctive, long-tailed, all-dark bird with a proportionately large bill. Gregarious and typically seen in groups of 5-10 birds. Usually nests communally and social groups engage in cooperative breeding behavior. Flight is weak and characteristic, involving interspersed glides on rounded wings and brief bouts of flapping; in flight, tail appears to have a mind of its own. Usually adopts an upright posture when perched, with dangling tail. Feeds mainly on insects, caught on ground or while foraging among leaves. Sexes are similar.