January 1, 2015:
We ended 2014 with a groovy kind of day. After several
trips to Lake Apopka North Shore Restoration Area, a foursome of
birders made one final attempt to locate the elusive
Groove-billed Ani. We walked to the area where the
pair had been seen numerous times in the previous days.
Each person was looking in a different direction and as Chuck
Tague, our photographer, looked toward a bobcat several
hundred yards down the path, one of the Ani's flew right in
front of him and landed in the thicket. We had a
five-second glimpse of the elusive bird and spent the next 30
minutes waiting, hopefully, for a second look. About the
time we were ready to give up and go home, one bird popped out
into the open and was joined by his/her mate a few seconds
later. The pair allowed us excellent, long looks -- life
birds for two of us.
The Groove-billed Ani,
Crotophaga sulcirostris, is kin to the cuckoo and winters
along the Gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana in thick brush and
overgrown pastures or at the edges of low riverside woods.
They are a sociable species in all seasons and may sit
side-by-side when resting or perched in the sun with wings
spread wide. To find this pair in Florida is very
Measuring 13.5 inches from beak to tail, this
bird is all black with a very large, grooved bill with a hump.
The bare skin around the eye makes the bright, black eye stand
out. While somewhat ungainly looking as they skulk in the
low branches, their bright eyes give a 'cute' look to the face.