Birds of the World and Bible – Groove-billed Ani

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) by Michael Woodruff

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) by Michael Woodruff

“every raven after its kind, and the owl, and the night-hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after its kind,” (Leviticus 11:15-16 YLT)

While browsing through some of the latest photos from photographers I follow on Flickr, I came across these photos by Michael Woodruff of the Groove-billed Ani. Then I found more by two others I follow; barloventomagico and Ross Tsai.

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) ©Flickr Ross Tsai

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) ©Flickr Ross Tsai

So what is a Groove-billed Ani anyway? The groove-billed ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) is an odd-looking tropical bird in the Cuculidae – Cuckoos family with a long tail and a large, curved beak. It is a resident species throughout most of its range, from southern Texas, central Mexico and The Bahamas, through Central America, to northern Colombia and Venezuela, and coastal Ecuador and Peru. It only retreats from the northern limits of its range in Texas and northern Mexico during winter. Dan and I was able to see these birds in South Texas in 2001.

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) by Michael Woodruff

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) by Michael Woodruff

The groove-billed ani is about 34 cm (13 in) long, and weighs 70–90 g (2.5–3.2 oz). It is completely black, with a very long tail almost as long as its body. It has a huge bill with horizontal grooves along the length of the upper mandible. It is very similar to the smooth-billed ani, some of which have bills as small as the groove-billed and with grooves on the basal half. The two species are best distinguished by voice and range. In flight, the ani alternates between quick, choppy flaps and short glides.

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) by Michael Woodruff

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) by Michael Woodruff

Like other anis, the groove-billed is found in open and partly open country, such as pastures, savanna, and orchards. It feeds largely on a mixed diet of insects, seeds, and fruits.

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) ©Flickr barloventomagico

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) ©Flickr barloventomagico

The groove-billed ani lives in small groups of one to five breeding pairs. They defend a single territory and lay their eggs in one communal nest. All group members incubate the eggs and care for the young. (Wikipedia)

It’s a different kind of beak, but the Lord made the Ani like this so that he could eat the available food in its terrain. Bills are not an evolutionary after-thought, but the design of a Creator, that loves His critters and provides for them.

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) ©Flickr barloventomagico

GBNA – Guide to Birds of North America eField Guide: Groove-billed Ani

  • Black overall with iridescent purple and green sheen
  • Long tail, very wide at end
  • Bulky bill with grooves (visible only at close range)
  • Bill does not extend above crown
  • Entirely black plumage
  • Sexes similar
  • Often found in small groups
  • Inhabits grassy, scrubby areas

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) by Michael Woodruff

“and the owl, and the night-hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after its kind;” (Deuteronomy 14:15 YLT)

The YLT  and two other versions of the Bible, list the “Cuckoo” in the list of birds not to be eaten by the Israelites. Other versions use the word, “Cuckow.” Therefore this family of birds have been listed as Birds of the Bible.

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