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Smooth-Billed Ani - Birdwatching - Ecuador

A large member of the Cuckoo family, the Smooth-billed Ani is a largish, black bird with a big, black beak (yes, the beak is smooth). Ithas a relatively long tail and they tend to congregate in groups. A Smooth-billed Ani might be mistaken for a crow at a glance. It's common throughout South and Central America. It's an introduced species in Galapagos: rangers and visitors started seeing them around 1960. It has been speculated that they were deliberately brought there by cattle ranchers, as the birds will peck ticks and other insectes out of the tough hides of cattle.

They're considered a pest because in addition to insects, Anis eat small birds and eggs. Endemic birds such as Darwin finches are in danger from them. They can also eat lizards and insects. The species has proven difficult to control, in part because of their high reproduction rate: a mated pair can turn out three clutches of eggs annually, which can hatch as many as ten chicks each time.

The Smooth-Billed Ani is more interesting than your average bird. Several females can lay eggs in the same nest. In Suriname, they believe that eating them (apparently they taste terrible) is a good cure for asthma. A group of smooth-billed Anis is known as a “cooch,” a “silliness,” or an “orphanage” (get it? orphanage?).


Here are other activities in and around The Galápagos Islands that may be of interest: Lava Gull, The Vermilion Flycatcher, Academy Bay Boat Tour, Inland Water Birds of Galapagos, Darwin's Finches, Whimbrels in Galapagos, Mockingbird, Punta Espinosa, Galapagos Barn Owl and The Brown Noddy.

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