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Potoo (Urutau Bird) Species, Details, Cost, Origin, Facts, Pictures & More




Potoo is a bird that belongs to the group of near passerine birds that related to the nightjars and frogmouths. These birds come under the family Nyctibiidae under the order of Caprimulgiformes. Common Potoo has been classified under the genus Nyctibius, and it has seven different species from this genus. These species are widely spread in the Neotropical region, from the range of Mexico to Argentina which holds five species. It is also found in three Caribbean islands named Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Tobago. Basically Urutau birds are sedentary but at times it tramps the location. All the species of Nyctibius mostly live in humid forests, but some of them also live in drier forests. The size of this bird is around 21–58 cm in length and the weight will be about 46 to 624 grams. While comparing with the head of Potoo the size of the body, wings, and tail are proportionally small. During day time you can see these birds on the top of the tree stumps. As they are nocturnal Common Potoo do not fly in the day time.

Scientific name: Nyctibius
Phylum: Chordata
Order: Caprimulgiformes
Rank: Genus
Higher classification: Nyctibiidae
Family: Nyctibiidae; Chenu & des Murs, 1851
Size: 21–58 cm
Weight: 46 to 624 gram

Species of Potoo

All the Potoo birds belong to the same genus Nyctibiu. It has seven different species that are found in the humid & dried forests of the Neotropical region. Here is the list of the species of Potoo.

Genus Nyctibius Vieillot 1816

Rufous potoo, Nyctibius bracteatus Gould 1846

Great potoo, Nyctibius grandis (Gmelin 1789)

Long-tailed potoo, Nyctibius aethereus (zu Wied-Neuwied 1820)

  • N. a. aethereus (zu Wied-Neuwied 1820) (Large-tailed Potoo)
  • N. a. chocoensis Chapman 1921
  • N. a. longicaudatus (von Spix 1825) (Long-tailed Potoo)

White-winged potoo, Nyctibius leucopterus (zu Wied-Neuwied 1821)

Andean potoo, Nyctibius maculosus Ridgway 1912

Common potoo or lesser potoo, Nyctibius griseus (Gmelin 1789)

  • N. g. griseus (Gmelin 1789) (Grey Potoo)
  • N. g. panamensis Ridgway 1912

Northern potoo, Nyctibius jamaicensis (Gmelin 1789)

  • N. j. jamaicensis subspecies-group
  • N. j. abbotti Richmond 1917 (Hispaniolan Potoo)
  • N. j. jamaicensis (Gmelin 1789) (Jamaica Potoo)
  • N. j. mexicanus subspecies-group
  • N. j. costaricensis Ridgway 1912 (Central American common potoo)
  • N. j. lambi Davis 1959
  • N. j. mexicanus Nelson 1900 (Mexican common potoo)

Interesting Facts About Potoo

  • The color of Potoo is overall grayish to dark brown and is finely marbled and etched with black and buff. The pattern of this bird exactly matches the bark of the tree and it resembles the stub of a branch. The black spots in the neck are usually visible and the eyes are yellow in color.
  • These species are largely found in the lowland forests and forest edges of Southern Central America, Northern and central South America.
  • The camouflaged structure of this bird makes it hard to find. While sitting on the stem of the tree look like part of the stump.
  • As the potoos are highly nocturnal, so on the day time it is mostly perched on branches with the eyes half-closed. If it feels any danger it adopts the freeze position even if the predator reaches very closely.
  • The transmission from perching position to freeze position is gradual but it is very difficult to find and observe.
  • Potoos mostly feed dusk and night-flying insects. It also flies from its branch to catch the flycatcher. Along with this it also eats moths, grasshoppers, and termites.
  • These birds are sometimes called poor-me-ones because of their haunting calls.
  • Among Potoos we can see the mobbing behavior which is very common. It follows the avian mobbing culture which is used for protecting themselves and for attacking the predators. The natural predators of Potoo are mantled howlers, Geoffroy’s spider monkeys and white-headed capuchins.
  • These birds are monogamous breeders (Only one Partner) both male and female share responsibilities for incubating the egg and raising the chick. Like other birds, it does not build its nest, Urutau birds lay an egg on the hole in a branch or at the top of a rotten stump.
  • Mostly the male bird incubates during day time and the female incubates during night time. The egg will hatch after one month and the nestling phase is around two months.

Potoo Images

Half eyed Potoo
Flying Potoo
Potoo and Chick are Sleeping
Potoo waiting for Prey
Potoo with Chick
Potoo’s Yello Eyes
Potoo Sitting
Potoo incubating Egg
Potoo on Stumb

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