Rare bird alert: Greater Ani

Greater ani as seen on November 27 2022 by Rob Wellens. Location not disclosed.
Picture by Rob Wellens.

Large parts of the island of Curaçao have been blessed with a very wet rainy season which already started in the month of July and intensified in the last couple of weeks. Not great for tourists who expect blue skies and lots of sunlight for their vacation, but fantastic for nature. Many dams and gullies are filled with water, plants are flowering and fruiting in large quantities and there are a lot of insects. Ideal for birds in general, but especially for migratory birds or birds that occasionally wander off the beaten track and visit the island.

The Greater ani, is such a rare visitor from South America. It will visit only of the circumstances are ideal, with a lot of water in dams and gullies. The 48 cm long birds is large compared to the native birds of the island and can not be overlooked with its long tail, blueish-black shine and penetrating white eyes. The large and heavy bill is also a good identification tool.

Like the native Groove-billed ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris), Groefsnavelani (in Dutch), Chuchubi pretu (in Papiamentu) the Groove-billed ani is also a member of the Cuckoo family but displays a different breeding behaviour from the traditional behaviour we know from cuckoos. Instead of depositing their eggs in other birds’ nests these birds breed in communal nests.
They do not breed on Curacao, but visit occasionally. These birds have been spotted in several locations in the past, including the Muizenberg Dam. The location where this particular bird was spotted will not be disclosed as it is private property.

ENGLISH: Greater ani
DUTCH: Grote Ani
PAPIAMENTU: Chuchubi pretu grandi
SCIENTIFIC: Crotophaga major

Frontal view of the bird observed.
Picture by Rob Wellens.

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