Amazonian Motmot

Amazonian Motmot Momotus momota

Type of Animal:

Forests, forest edge, light secondary woodland patches, wooded ravines, thickets, hedgerows, shady gardens, shaded coffee farms, plantations, pastureland, rural gardens

E Colombia, Venezuela, Guiana Shield, Brazil, Bolivia, N Paraguay, E Ecuador, E Peru, N Argentina

Blue/turquoise crown w/ central black crown, black eyemask, chestnut nape, long racket-like blue-green tail (bluer at tip), curved short beak serrated along upper edge, green back, red eye, black around eyes, orangish belly

Insects, insect larvae, spiders, gastropods, worms, millipedes, woodlice, small reptiles, fruit, frogs, small rodents, birds, centipedes, berries, plant reproductive parts

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, wildlife centers, & aviculture

Monogamous pairs or solitary

Additional Info:

Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Pair
6 oz

3 weeks

Life Span:
20 years

1.3 ft

Body Length:
1.3 ft

Tail Length:
4 in

Main predators of adults are felids, raptors, snakes, & crocodilians. Small mammals & jays eat chicks.
Most active at twilight.
Often heard at dawn emitting low owl-like ‘ooo-doot’ call.
During breeding season, male performs courtship dance to attract female.
Nest in tunnels in banks & other difficult to discover places. Usually excavated when soil is soft. Nesting tunnel excavation can take as long as 2.5 months to complete, w/ most digging/nest work being done from late morning to late afternoon. Excavation results in 5-14 ft long winding burrow 3-4 in in diameter & 10 in high, 10 in wide, 14 in long terminal nesting chamber. Birds use same nest sites year after year & often only during breeding/nesting.
Heavy set, serrated bill used to brush away leaf litter & probe into earth.
Larger prey often bashed against tree branch/rock to tenderize it. After pulverizing, food swallowed whole.
Chicks leave parents at 2-4 months old but become sexually mature at 10 months.
Pairs typically rear 2-4 chicks per clutch, 1-3 clutches a year.
Both parents incubate eggs.
Fast fliers, flying for short distances, darting from tree to tree.

Fun Fact(s):
Sometimes hop in pursuit of prey.
Males have been seen carrying inedible objects to court females.
Birds actually prune down racket-like feathers to make tail that shape.
“Motmot” is American-Spanish word imitating calls made by these birds.
Very short feet w/ 1 rear toe & middle toe almost fused to inner one.
Often called “clock birds” due to habit of swinging tail side to side.
Amazonian Motmot, stock photo

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