Greater ani

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Greater ani
Crotophaga major (Greater Ani).jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Cuculiformes
Family: Cuculidae
Genus: Crotophaga
C. major
Binomial name
Crotophaga major
(Gmelin, 1788)
Crotophaga major map.svg

The greater ani (Crotophaga major) is a large bird in the cuckoo family. It is a breeding species from Panama and Trinidad through tropical South America to northern Argentina. It is sometimes referred to as the black cuckoo.


This ani is found in mangrove swamps, semi-open woodland near water, and the edges of forests. It is a seasonal migrant in at least some parts of its range.


The nest, built and lived in communally by two to five pairs, is a deep cup lined with leaves and placed usually 2–5 m (6.6–16.4 ft) high in a tree.[2] A number of females lay their chalky deep blue eggs in the nest and then share incubation and feeding. These breeding groups may also include non-breeding helpers.[2][3] Nests have been found containing 3–10 eggs, with an incubation time of 11–12 days, with nestlings free to leave the nest after five days. They will be fed for several weeks if they choose not to leave.[2] In a recent longterm study, it was found that around 15% of females lay their eggs in the nest of another nesting group. This conspecific brood parasitism happens primarily when a female has lost her own clutch to predation.[4] In regards to the nesting group, the first couple eggs will be rejected by other nest members when the mother of those specific egg leaves to forage. Egg rejection happens more often with larger groups, and one theory claims there is a balance within having more ani's to defend the nest from predation, and less ani's to minimize intraspecific competition. This leads to an average of two to three breeding pairs in one nest, with any greater amount being rare.[2]

Juvenile has black eyes. Canopy Camp - Darien Panama


The greater ani is about 48 cm (19 in) long and weighs 170 g (6.0 oz). The adult is mainly blue-glossed black, with a long tail, massive ridged black bill, and a white iris. Immature birds have a dark iris.

Behaviour and call[edit]

This is a very gregarious species, always found in noisy groups. The calls include croaking and turkey-like gobbling kro-koro. The greater ani feeds on large insects and even lizards and frogs.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2020). "Crotophaga major". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020: e.T22684431A163883583. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T22684431A163883583.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Riehl, Christina; Jara, Laura (December 2009). "Natural History and Reproductive Biology of the Communally Breeding Greater Ani (Crotophaga major) at Gatún Lake, Panama". The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 121 (4): 679–687. doi:10.1676/09-017.1. ISSN 1559-4491. S2CID 9437145.
  3. ^ Riehl Christina; Strong Meghan J. (2018-04-11). "Stable social relationships between unrelated females increase individual fitness in a cooperative bird". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 285 (1876): 20180130. doi:10.1098/rspb.2018.0130. PMC 5904317. PMID 29643212.
  4. ^ Meghan J. Strong; Riehl, Christina (March 2019). "Social parasitism as an alternative reproductive tactic in a cooperatively breeding cuckoo". Nature. 567 (7746): 96–99. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-0981-1. ISSN 1476-4687. PMID 30814729. S2CID 71147887.
  • Hilty, Steven L. (2003). Birds of Venezuela. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-7136-6418-5.
  • ffrench, Richard; O'Neill, John Patton; Eckelberry, Don R. (1991). A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago (2nd ed.). Ithaca, N.Y.: Comstock Publishing. ISBN 0-8014-9792-2.

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