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Motmots comprise about 10 species within in the Momotidae family of Central and South America. They prefer to dwell in woodlands and forests. Motmots are typically between 7 and 20 inches long (averaging the size of a Jay) and have a colorful plumage of brownish green with features touched with bright blue and black. Its beak is quite heavy. When perched in a tree, it can be seen swaying its tail from side to side or holding it askew. It's grand tail movements are what makes an otherwise hidden bird visible. Surprisingly, this is one of its greatest protective mechanisms against predators. It's effective in deterring the predator from wasting its time on an unfruitful chase, while only exacerbating some energy rather than the amount it would need to flee. Most species have relatively long tails, especially 6 species whose tail feathers seem to be pruned by the barbs of branches and create a distinctive racket-like tip you'd see in many of the bird species' photographs. Only the Tody Motmot has a short tail.
Motmots for sale
Types of Motmots
- Blue Crowned Motmot (Momatus momata)
- Broad-billed Motmot (Electron platyrhynchum)
- Rufous Motmot (Baryphthengus martii)
- Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomata superciliosa)
Motmots eat mainly a diet of insects. They take their prey, invertebrates and small vertebrates, from branches. They will also eat lizards and other small prey, or even fruit if it's available. Motmot nests are unusually a hole dug into a sandbank but can also be dug into river banks, caves, and crevices of rock, which is one characteristic that makes it one of the Caraciiformes family. The bird achieves this by digging with its downcurved bill. Once mated, the Motmot will lay four white eggs that will hatch after about 20 days. Both parents raise and care for the young for 30 days until they fledge the nest. Motmots are pretty solitary birds other than during mating season and raising their young. Few species will nest in colonies.
Some Motmot species include the Blue-throated Motmot, Broad-billed Motmot, Keel-billed Motmot, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Tody Motmot, Amazonian Motmot, Andean Motmot, Blue-capped Motmot, Lesson's Motmot, Russet-Crowned Motmot, Trinidad Motmot, Whooping Motmot, Cuban Motmot, Narrow-billed Motmot, and Puerto Rican Motmot. And guess what? They all look extremely similar in color, with slight variances in features.
Because there are so many varieties of Motmots all over the world, it's difficult to report on all their endangerment status' and effort to maintain their populations. The bird is not only solitary as its natural behavior in its own species, but the bird is not often seen and requires little human intrusion of its habitat to survive. Perhaps that's why the Keel-billed Motmot is considered vulnerable by the IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature), endangered under Mexican law, and of high concern of Partners in Flight. An estimated 50% or more of its population has been lost in Mexico the last 100 years due to its low population (1500-1700 mature birds in 2014) and need for undisturbed habitat to carry out its usual survival behavior. Its largest threat, and perhaps the largest threat to all Motmots, is the logging of the mature forests they require and also, the adaptation of woodlands to agricultural and livestock serving land.