Ani Bird Facts You'll Never Forget


Ani birds, a relative of the cuckoo family, are big black creatures. These birds have heavy a black plumage, beady black eyes, and rumbled feathers. The term collectively refers to the three species of birds that are described later in the article. Slight physical differences are noticeable across the subspecies. They can be found in North American states like southern Texas and Florida, tropical South America, and coastal Peru.

Recent studies have discovered their interesting social structures. Breeding happens in large communal nests and has divided responsibilities among adults. This communal method of nest formation has an adaptative advantage. The larger the group size, the greater is the probability of their eggs being protected.

Read on to know more about the breeding behavior, physical characteristics, and other interesting facts about this species.

If you enjoyed yourself while reading this article, do consider reading our articles on black-billed cuckoo and yellow billed cuckoo facts too.

Ani Bird Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Ani bird?

Ani birds refer to three species of birds belonging to the cuckoo family.

What class of animal does an Ani bird belong to?

The Ani bird belongs to the class Aves of the kingdom Animalia.

How many Ani birds are there in the world?

The recent IUCN Red List Assessment shows that Ani birds can be found in abundance across their home range. The smooth-billed Ani population is estimated to be 20,000,000 and the trend is stable. Similarly for the greater Ani bird, the population lies in the range of 500,000 to 4,999,999 with a stable trend. Although some concerns have been raised about the decline in the groove-billed Ani population.

Where does an Ani bird live?

One can observe only slight differences in the range of each sub-species as much of the inhabited lands overlap. For example, smooth-billed Anis and groove-billed Anis share the Central and South American regions. Anis can be found in the north of Florida, along the Caribbean, and Pacific slopes of Costa Rica. In South America, they live in Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, and northern Argentina. They also cover southern Texas, Panama, Peru, Venezuela, and Mexico. Some of these North American birds migrate to Cuba from Florida.

What is an Ani bird's habitat?

Anis share certain habitat characteristics. All three subgroups (groove-billed Anis, smooth-billed Anis, and greater Anis) tend to prefer open woodlands, semi-open countries, and cultivated lands. Greater Ani birds also favor areas with water sources and can be found living in mangrove swamps.

Who do Ani birds live with?

Usually, pairs live together to tend to their young. A recent study on the family structures of the groove-billed Ani found that their family structure is quite variable. They may form families of two, four, six, or even eight adult members. Although, the increase in group size does not mean an increase in the number of eggs. Females lay only about four eggs in total. Greater Anis are also spotted in groups as this help them to defend their nest territories against other birds with harsher calls.

How long does an Ani bird live?

There isn't yet any exact information about the lifespan of Ani birds.

How do they reproduce?

Like cuckoos, Anis are oviparous and iteroparous which essentially refers to the characteristic of the species of nesting together. Pairs of males and females tend to build nests together. This ensures better protection of the eggs. A single clutch may have up to 36 eggs as the nest is shared by multiple females. The eggs are pale blue in color. These birds prefer building their nests on tree-tops. The incubation period lasts for 14 days during which all adult members contribute. The young are born helpless and are taken care of by the parents. They are fed by both males and females of this species.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN Red List, Anis have a Least Concern categorization. The populations of both the smooth-billed Ani and the greater Ani are stable and can be found in abundance. However, the groove-billed Ani's population trend seems to be decreasing.

Ani Bird Fun Facts

What do Ani birds look like?

Ani birds have a characteristic black plumage. They are large birds and have a striking black bill and a long tail. The groove-billed Ani has, as the name suggests, deep-set ridges on its beak which is contrast with the smooth-billed Ani. The greater Ani has an exceptionally long tail and a unique feather pattern. Its upper half takes up a circular form whereas the lower half is straight and falls together like pleats.

The Ani species of bird are related to cuckoos and nest together.

How cute are they?

These birds can easily win the goth title. They have a very distinguishing black plumage which makes them somewhat scary.

How do they communicate?

They communicate vocally, using different calls for routine communication and as alerting signals. Smooth-billed Anis have a hawk-like call with a noticeable inflection at the end. Greater Anis are known to be quite boisterous. They make a range of sounds like croaks, hisses, and whirring. Similarly,  groove-billed Anis have a 'tsweeuw' call which is high-pitched and used often.

How big is an Ani bird?

Anis are big birds. The size ranges from 11.8-14.2 in (30-36 cm). Its size is very similar if compared to cuckoos, but Anis tend to be larger than cuckoos. Anis are three times larger than robins.  

How fast can an Ani bird fly?

Their flight is described as wobbly and erratic. They make up for this fact by being quick on their feet. Since they forage for food on ground level, it does not prove to be a great disadvantage.

How much does an Ani bird weigh?

An Ani bird's weight falls in the bracket of 2.5-4.2 oz (71-119 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

No distinct names are used to refer to males and females of this species.

What would you call a baby Ani bird?

Baby Ani birds can be called chicks.

What do they eat?

An Ani bird, like the cuckoo family, is omnivorous by nature. They feed on small insects, lizards, beetles, and grasshoppers. At other times, they eat berries, seeds, and small fruits such as grapes, royal palm, and firewood. Smooth-billed Anis rely on herds of large cattle to draw out these small insects. Groove-billed Anis forage at ground level.

Are they dangerous?

They are known to defend their nest, eggs, and home range from any intruders. Some instances of parasitic brooding have been noted. They aren't dangerous to humans.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these birds are accustomed to the wild. They prefer tree-tops and foraging in the open. Moreover, they are very social in nature and nest in large groups.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

The pronunciation of Ani can be split into two syllables. Both of them should be given equal emphasis.

Ani birds are related to cuckoos and roadrunners.

Greater Anis are sometimes called black cuckoos.

What are the different types of Ani birds?

There are three types of Ani birds. These are smooth-billed Anis (Crotophaga ani), greater Anis (Crotophaga major), and groove-billed Anis (Crotophaga sulcirostris). They differ in terms of their appearance, calls, and habitat range.

What are the threats facing Ani birds?

The Audubon Society which estimates the effect of global warming on the home range of these birds has predicted its effects on groove-billed Anis. When temperatures raise by  37.4 F (3 C), they will lose 2% of their habitat range.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including shoebill, or Australian pelican.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our ani bird coloring pages.

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