With over 500 different types of species in an area of 22,966 km², Belize has become known as THE place for birding adventures. So you can imagine how difficult it was to narrow down this blog to one specific bird. However, after some thought we decided to feature the Blue-Crowned Motmot for this month! Let’s learn a little about this gorgeous bird.
The Blue-Crowned Motmot (Momotus momota) is found in forests and woodlands across South and Central America, from Mexico extending south to Argentina. This specie is characterized for its beautiful iridescent blue, green, and tawny shades. On its head it features a black central crown broadly bordered in turquoise blue, followed by a black eye mask that surrounds its dull red eyes and chestnut colored nape.
Blue-Crowned Motmots’ beak is short, slightly down curved, broad, and heavy with hoarse serrations along the upper mandible. Yet, their most peculiar characteristic is their racket-like tail with two blue feathered barbs at the very end—a look achieved during preening or abrasion. This specie sits motionless and occasionally wags its tail slowly back and forth, like the pendulum of a clock, giving Motmots a sense of style and personality!
On the other hand, this bird is omnivorous and insectivorous and feeds on berries, beetles, cicadas, spiders, among other types of food. Blue-Crowned Motmots are what you would call a “sit-and-wait” predator that sallies to the ground or foliage to capture prey and snatch fruits. If their prey is too big or tough, they repeatedly hit it against the ground or branches to kill it or break it’s shell.
Blue-Crowned Motmots produce a soft, deep, owl-like “hoot, hoot” call (sometimes a “hoot, hoot, hoot”) that is most commonly heard at dawn or well into the morning, the time when they are most active. Although they forage separately during the day, they associate closely together when roosting in the evening in thick foliage.
Additionally, both female and male Motmots dig elaborate nests in the shape of tunnels that can extend up to 14 feet! (Woah!) Yet, these nest burrows are not reused in the future; perhaps this is because they have never been observed removing waste products from their burrows. When it comes to sharing parental responsibilities…there’s no problem! While one adult incubates the eggs (about 3 -5 at a time) from early afternoon to dawn, its partner forages for useful materials and food. It’s all about teamwork!
There’s a myriad of things to learn about this blue-diamond colored species and their behavior which makes this blog seems like a quick fact sheet. If you’re interested in finding out more about the Blue-Crowned Motmot (and many other Belize birds) join us on a Belize birding tour or even better, check out our Wings Over Belize 10 day birding package!