By

Marina K. Villatoro

, July 5, 2010

The Turquoise-browed Motmot is a migratory bird very well-known in its range that lives in fairly open habitats such as forest edge, gallery forest and scrubland. It inhabits Central America from south-east Mexico mostly the Yucatn Peninsula, to Costa Rica, where it is common and not considered threatened.

There is a bright blue stripe above the eye and a blue-bordered black patch on the throat. The tips of the tail feathers are shaped like rackets and the bare feather shafts are longer than in other motmots. The flight feathers and upperside of the tail are blue. It has a mostly green body with a rufous back and belly.

Motmots eat small prey such as insects and lizards, and will also take fruit. In Costa Rica, motmots have been observed feeding on poison dart frogs. The bird is approximately 34 cm long and weighs about 65 grams. These guys have been known to live from 12 to 14 years. It has also been chosen as the national bird of both El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Motmots often move their tail back and forth in a wag-display that commonly draws attention to an otherwise hidden bird. Research indicates that motmots perform the wag-display when they detect predators (based on studies on Turquoise-browed Motmot) and that the display is likely to communicate that the motmot is aware of the predator and is prepared to escape. White eggs (3-6) are laid in a long tunnel nest in an earth bank or sometimes in a quarry or fresh-water well. Males apparently use their tail as a sexual signal, as males with longer tails have greater pairing success and reproductive success.

The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (30% decline over ten years or three generations).

Marina K. Villatoro, lives in Central America – Costa Rica and Guatemala for the past decade. She has traveled all over these areas with her family and now she loves to organize vacations to Costa Rica and Guatemala. Contact her for advice and to plan your perfect trip! Free reprint avaialable from: Fun Facts About Turquoise Browed Motmot.

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