This article features a few images of Smooth-billed Ani taken with a Nikon 1 V2 and Nikon 1 CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 lens. This unusual looking bird is a member of the cuckoo family and has an odd, almost prehistoric look. It is commonly found in southern Florida, the Caribbean , in parts of Central America, in western Ecuador and as far south as the northern portion of Argentina.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge
The Smoooth-billed Ani is a very social bird and breeding females often construct a communal nest, then take turns sharing incubation and feeding chicks during their two-week development period. After eggs are initially laid it is quite common for each of the females to toss one or two eggs (other than her own) out of the nest. This is one of the reasons that a communal nest may start out with as many as 30 eggs, but only have 10 chicks survive.
The species prefers open and semi-open habitat, feeding on termites, large insects and even lizards and frogs. They also have been known to remove ticks and other parasites from grazing animals such as cattle. It will also consume berries and seeds.
Smooth-billed Ani are about 12-14 inches in length (30-36 cm) and weigh 2.5 to 4.7 ounces (71-133 g). Colouring is typically very dark with a bluish or brownish hue visible in strong sunlight. The bird has a large, heavy tail and its flight is rather weak and wobbly. It tends to feed on the ground where it is more nimble and runs well.
The birds tend to live in small flocks of six to twenty and often live near water. The images for this article were taken in the small wetland area that separates the Playa Costa Verde resort (Holguin Cuba) from the beach.
I used my Nikon 1 V2 with Nikon 1 CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 hand-held for all of the images in this article. Processing of RAW files was done with DxO OpticsPro 10, with a DNG file exported into CS6 and Nik Suite for additional adjustments as necessary.
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Article and all images are Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, reproduction or adaptation is allowed without written consent.