Photo: Claude Nadeau/Vireo

Smooth-billed Ani

Crotophaga ani

John James Audubon and other early naturalists failed to find the Smooth-billed Ani in Florida, but it became a regular nesting bird there during the 1930s and was fairly common for several decades. Recently it has become very scarce again and may disappear from Florida.
Conservation status In Florida, apparently increased through middle part of 20th century; has declined again since 1970s. In tropics, has increased as clearing of forest has created more open habitat.
Family Cuckoos, Roadrunners, Anis
Habitat Brushy edges, thickets. In Florida, usually found where dense brush stands next to open fields, pastures, or marshes. In its tropical range, found in a variety of brushy or semi-open habitats in the lowlands, mainly in humid areas. Generally avoids unbroken forest.
John James Audubon and other early naturalists failed to find the Smooth-billed Ani in Florida, but it became a regular nesting bird there during the 1930s and was fairly common for several decades. Recently it has become very scarce again and may disappear from Florida.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • juvenile
  • adults
Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly on the ground, hopping and running rather clumsily; will also forage well up in bushes. In pastures, often associates closely with cattle or other grazers, catching the insects flushed by the larger animals.


Eggs

About 4 blue eggs laid by each female in group; nest may have up to 20 or more eggs. Incubation is by both sexes and apparently involves all adults in group, about 14 days. Young: Apparently fed by all adults in group; may climb out of nest before old enough to fly. Age at first flight not well known.


Young

Apparently fed by all adults in group; may climb out of nest before old enough to fly. Age at first flight not well known.

Diet

Mostly large insects. Feeds on insects including grasshoppers, beetles, moths, caterpillars, and others. May take external parasites from cattle. Also eats spiders, snails, and often small lizards. Will consume many small fruits and berries at some seasons, also seeds. May sometimes eat eggs of other birds.


Nesting

Often nests communally: one or more pairs (perhaps as many as five pairs) will work together to build one large nest; then each female lays eggs there, and all the adults help to incubate the eggs and care for the young. Nest site is in dense shrub or tree, 5-30' above the ground, usually fairly low. Nest (built by both sexes, apparently by all adult members of group) is a bulky bowl of twigs and weeds, lined with leaves.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Migration

Present in southern Florida at all seasons, but some may move back and forth between Florida and Cuba.

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Migration

Present in southern Florida at all seasons, but some may move back and forth between Florida and Cuba.

Songs and Calls
Slurred double note with a rising inflection that has a whining, metallic quality; quite different from that of the Groove-billed Ani.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.