A Groove-billed Ani feeding its chicks in Limon, Costa Rica. Photo: George Grall/National Geographic Creative

Podcast

Groove-Billed Anis, Communal Nesters

This bird can collect up to 20 eggs in one nest.

This story is brought to you by BirdNote, a show that airs daily on public radio stations nationwide.

If you’ve ever spent time in the extreme southern United States, you may have heard this jumble of sounds coming from open, brushy habitat. What you’re hearing is a Groove-billed Ani.

Anis are all-black, disheveled-looking birds with drooping wings, spread tails, and shaggy black plumage. Their long tails seem disjointed from their bodies, as if raised and lowered by a puppeteer’s strings. The ani’s large, flattened bill spits out these sharp, high whistles, slurred whinings, and various squeaks, pips, and growls.

These birds gather in loose groups . . . and with good reason: They nest communally. As many as four or five pairs of birds may use one nest—a bulky cup of twigs lined with fresh leaves. 

When the dominant female ani begins to lay her own eggs, the other females lay simultaneously. Up to 20 chalky white eggs have been found in one nest. All parents share the duties of incubating and raising the young.

Download this podcast at birdnote.org.

Call of the Groove-billed Ani provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G.A. Keller
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson / Dominic Black

Written by Frances Wood

© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org   August 2011/2015   Narrator: Michael Stein

“The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”