Smooth-billed Ani. Scientific name: Crotophaga ani
A bird that roosts close to the lodge are the Smooth-billed Anis. Black crow-like birds with large hooked parrot-like beaks.
Watching them from my verandah was always interesting. They hunt in flocks. The scout Anis appears first, leading the others over the trees and shrubs and swooping down through the branches, as far as the ground. They eat everything in their wake, be it frog, lizard, insect or termite. They remind me of velociraptors, in the way they move and in their pursuit of prey, and in their calls, resembling the calls heard on films of prehistoric dinosaurs.
They breed communally, having as many as twenty nine eggs in a single cup shaped nest.
When in open areas, close to settlements or in town, they march forward in ranks clearing the area of small wildlife. They appear not to fear humans, and do not fly away when one is sighted, but often turn, look with a challenging stare, then turn away, irritated by the interruption and carry on with their foraging. I found them quite intimidating, though they are not aggressive to humans.