where are potoo birds found

Description edit

All of the species in the potoo family have striking similarities in appearance, making them a highly conservative family. Species accounts in ornithological literature comment on the peculiar appearance of these species. [6] Potoos range from 21–58 cm (8. 3–22. 8 in) in length. They resemble upright sitting nightjars, a closely related family (Caprimulgidae). They also have characteristics in common with Australasian frogmouths, which are stockier and have much heavier bills. They have long wings and tails, and their heads are disproportionately large for their bodies. Huge eyes and a massive, broad bill dominate the large head. The potoos are described by Cohn-Haft as “little more than a flying mouth and eyes” in the Handbook of the Birds of the World’s treatment of the family. [6] The bill is big and wide, but it’s also thin, barely poking past the face. Although it is small, it has a special “tooth” on the upper mandible’s cutting edge that might help with foraging. Potoos do not have rictal bristles around their mouths like nightjars, which are closely related to them. The weak legs and feet are only meant for perching.

The eyes are large, even larger than those of nightjars. Similar to numerous other nocturnal bird species, they reflect flashlight light. [14] Due to the unusual slits in their lids, which enable them to sense movement even when their eyes are closed, potoos’ eyes, which may be noticeable to potential predators during the day, can detect movement. They can blend in with the branches they spend their days on thanks to their cryptic plumage.

Behavior edit

Due to their strong nocturnal nature, potoos rarely fly during the day. They sit on branches and keep their eyes half closed during the day. Their mysterious feathers give them the appearance of stumps, and if they sense danger, they assume a “freeze” stance that makes them even more like broken branches. [16][17] The observer hardly notices the gradual change from the perching to the freeze position.

The English zoologist Hugh Cott refers to Nyctibius griseus as “this wonderful bird” and notes that it “usually occupies a small hollow that is just, and only just, large enough to contain it as a receptacle for its egg,” which it habitually selects the top of an upright stump for. Just below the fracture line, a new leader had emerged from the chosen stump. and the birds were positioned to face this in a way that, when seen from behind, caused them to align and blend in with the grey stem. “[18].

Food and feeding edit

Potoos feed at dusk and at night on flying insects. [6] Their usual method of foraging consists of perching on a branch and occasionally flying out like a flycatcher to catch a passing insect. They don’t try to catch prey on the ground; instead, they occasionally fly to vegetation to snag an insect off it before going back to their perch. Their primary food source is insects, but they also consume termites, grasshoppers, and moths. There was also a small bird in the stomach of one northern potoo. Potoos catch insects and swallow them whole, without crushing or beating them.


Are there potoo birds in the US?

The potoos have a Neotropical distribution. They range from Mexico to Argentina, with the greatest diversity occurring in the Amazon Basin, which holds five species. They are found in every Central and South American country. They also occur on three Caribbean islands: Jamaica, Hispaniola and Tobago.

How rare is a potoo bird?

The IUCN has assessed the common potoo as being of Least Concern. It has an extremely large range and a population of at least 500,000 mature individuals.

Where can I see potoo birds?

The Common Potoo is widely distributed in southern Central America and throughout the lowlands of northern and central South America. This bird was recently split into two species, with the Mexican and northern Central American form now classified as the Northern Potoo.

Where does the common Potoo live?

N. g. panamensis is found from eastern Nicaragua south through Costa Rica and Panama and west of the Andes from northwestern Venezuela through Colombia and Ecuador into northwestern Peru. The common potoo is a resident breeder in open woodlands and savannah.