Greater Ani (Crotophaga major)

Greater Ani

[order] Cuculiformes | [family] Cuculidae | [latin] Crotophaga major | [UK] Greater Ani | [FR] Ani des paletuviers | [DE] Riesenani | [ES] Garrapatero Mayor | [IT] Ani maggiore | [NL] Grote Ani


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

The Greater Ani is about 48 cm long and weighs 170 g. The adult is mainly blue-glossed black, with a long tail, massive ridged black bill, and a white iris. Immature birds have a dark iris.

Listen to the sound of Greater Ani

[audio: Ani.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 46 cm size max.: 48 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


It is a breeding species from Panama and Trinidad through tropical South America to northern Argentina.


The species inhabits river swamps and marshes throughout the lowlands of South America. This species inhabits the borders of streams and rivers exclusively
and prefers streams with low, partly inundated banks.


The birds live in a colony which has its own territory. Within this territory a single large nest is built, within which the eggs are laid in separate chambers by several females, a monogamous species. Tjis species is alomst always found in colonies of even numbers (only pairs). All members of the colony help looking after both the eggs and the young.
The nests are built in trees or shrubs about three to five meters above the ground or, frequently, above the water. Since the rivers overflow their banks during the rainy season the birds have opportunity to build in trees standing in water. The nest is typically crotophaginine, composed of sticks and lined with leaves. The birds never pick sticks from the ground but always break them from the trees. During incubation the birds continue to bring in green leaves and put them on the nest. The number of eggs laid in the nest depends on the number of females laying. Each female probably lays from five to seven eggs. The eggs are large and vary greatly in size. The shell is blue, covered with a thin layer of calcareous material.

Feeding habits

The Greater Ani feeds on large insect and even lizards and frogs. Sometimes follows Army ants or monkeys which both flush insects from foliage or ground.


This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 12,000,000 km2. The global population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be large as the species is described as ‘common’ in at least parts of its range (del Hoyo et al. 1997). Global population trends have not been quantified, but populations appear to be stable (del Hoyo et al. 1997) so the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Greater Ani status Least Concern


Resident throughout range.

Distribution map

Greater Ani range map


Title Nest predation in relation to nest placement in the Greater Ani (Crotophaga major
Author(s): Pablo Lau, Carlos Bosque & Stuart D. Strahl
Abstract: Selection of a suitable nesting site may determine..[more]..

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Title Greater Ani (Crotophaga major) in Mexico
Author(s): STORRS L. OLSON
Abstract: The Greater Ani, Crotophaga major (Cuculidae), is ..[more]..
Source: The Auk: Vol. 95, No. 4

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Author(s): DAVID E. DAVIS
Abstract: A study of the social nesting habits of Crotophaga..[more]..
Source: The Auk: Vol. 58, No. 2

download full text (pdf)


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