I had heard the grooved bill ani was at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve for a couple of weeks. But it was right when I had company visiting and then we went to Ft. Lauderdale and I couldn't seem to get down there for a while. I finally had a few days off during the week and decided to try and see if the bird was still there. I had never heard of this bird before. It certainly doesn't look very pretty. But boy does this bird have personality. I think that's why so many people have made it to the park to see it. I thought there wouldn't be too many people there on a Wednesday afternoon. I was wrong. I walked up and down the north part of the trail looking for the bird with several other photographers. We were looking up in the trees. Ha! That bird was laughing at us. Finally, a volunteer from the park came by with several birders and he shook a big bush close by us and out pops the bird on the ground. The ani eats bugs on the ground that are stirred up sort of like cattle egrets do with cows. We were all standing there watching this bird stare at us and all of a sudden he ran towards my feet. The more I backed up the closer he got. It was hard getting good shots since I had my 500mm lens with me. Finally, I walked pretty far down the trail to get pictures.
The ani is normally found in south Texas and central America. It's rare to see one in Florida. It must have really flown off the beaten path. Recently, Boyd Hill had a planned burn in the park and everyone was worried it would scare off the bird. The Boyd Hill team kept the fire away from the area and a week later the bird is still there. If you go to visit, you can pick up a hand written map that shows you where the bird hangs out, down to which pine tree to look around. Usually though, there's a crowd there.