Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani)

Smooth-billed Ani


The smooth-billed ani (Crotophaga ani) is a large near passerine bird in the cuckoo family. It is a resident breeding species from southern Florida, the Caribbean, parts of Central America, south to western Ecuador, Brazil, northern Argentina and southern Chile. It was introduced to Galápagos around the 1960s and is potentially impacting native and endemic species across the archipelago. The smooth-billed ani is a mid-sized species, larger on average than the groove-billed ani but smaller than the greater ani. It measures 30–36 cm (12–14 in) in length and weighs 71–133 g (2.5–4.7 oz). The adult is mainly flat black, with a long tail, deep ridged black bill and a brown iris. The flight is weak and wobbly, but the bird runs well and usually feeds on the ground. This species is called "el pijul" in Venezuelan folklore.[citation needed] It is mentioned in the popular Veracruz song "El Pijul".

Distribution And Habitat

The Smooth-billed Ani occurs from the southern tip of the United States through the West Indies, and from Costa Rica through most of South America (Biaggi 1997, Raffaele and others 1998). It is a common widespread breeding resident in Puerto Rico (Oberle 2018, Raffaele 1989a) and satellite islands such as Desecheo (Meier and others 1989), Mona (Barnés 1946, Gordon and others 1961, Terborgh and Faaborg 1973), Culebra (Wetmore 1917), and Vieques (Saliva 1994, Sorrié 1975, Wetmore 1916), in the latter being a fairly common resident (Gemmill 2015). Anis are most common, usually in fl ocks, in open and semi-open habitats including pastures with scattered trees and shrubby fields (Oberle 2018, Raffaele 1989a). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 631 records within 359 hexagons or 75 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the 359 hexagons where this species was found, breeding met the atlas definition of confirmed in 6 percent (20) of the hexagons, probable in 15 percent (54), and possible in 79 percent (282), while the species was observed in 1 percent (3) of the hexagons but without evidence of breeding (see map). Smooth-billed Ani distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding. 67Smooth-billed Ani/Garrapatero o Judío

Smooth-billed Ani Distribution

Breeding Habits

The Smooth-billed Ani builds a large bulky nest made mostly of twigs, leaves, and dried plant material, usually placed in a tree at several meters above the ground (Biaggi 1997). The nest is used communally by different females to lay their eggs (Raffaele and others 1998). Previously published reports indicate that this species appears to breed year-round (Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas results show that this species breeding season extends throughout the year, with the most breeding activity from March to June (see chart). Overall, the breeding activity peaks in June, and it mostly takes place within the subtropical moist forest life zone (63 percent of the hexagons) (see table). However, results indicate that it also breeds in the southern region within the subtropical dry forest life zone (22 percent of the hexagons) and in subtropical wet and lower montane wet forest life zones at higher elevations (15 percent of the hexagons) (see table and map).


The current population trend of the Smooth-billed Ani is described as decreasing in North America (Butcher and Niven 2007). This species is currently listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2018). Locally, this species is not listed in any of the threatened categories of PRDNER and USFWS. In Puerto Rico, the Smooth-billed Ani has a protected habitat in land of 12 percent or 1020 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where evidence of breeding was found for this species (8490 km2).