Groove-billed Anis--not just one, but 5!

I really enjoy seeing Groove-billed Anis, a species that is most often in the Rio Grande Valley during spring and summer. But they are here some winters and this is one with reports of several birds in several locations. This morning I went to look for them at the Santa Ana NWR where up to 4 birds have recently been reported.

I thought I had blown it because I found I got there that I had not put the memory card back in my camera--arggh, at least I looked before I left the parking lot. So I had to drive back to my motel to get it (it would have been almost as far and taken more time to go buy one). So after that return trip and checking in the Visitor Center for reports of sightings, I didn't get out birding until about 11 am. And I looked for about an hour and half with no results so was on my way back when I turned a corner and spotted something black on a tree in the thicket--yup, a Groove-billed Ani. Then it spotted me looking at it and flew off in the thicket followed by 2 more anis.

I walked quietly down the trail adjacent to this thicket until I spotted an ani again. I was delighted to get to spend a full half hour watching what turned out to be a group of 5. I was pleased to hear them vocalizing to each other in soft squeaky calls, the first time of the several times I have seen this species that I have heard them call. One of them perched and groomed itself for 10-15 minutes about 30 feet away but behind lots of little limbs, twigs and leaves that blew almost every photo I took and I was focusing my dslr camera manually (this is where those auto-focus only compact cameras wouldn't even get off a shot as there was always something in the way). I did get the two above photos of the ani/anis perched through the vegetation.

The photo just above shows 3 of the anis in some vegetation after they had flown out of the thicket. They were very effective at diving into the seemingly sparse vegetation and disappearing.

And I watched the anis fly to and from the thicket and down the trail letting me get a couple of fairly good flight photos. I had a blast-this is the type of birding I prefer, spending time with birds and getting to know them. SeEtta


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