Sunday, May 1, 2022

Broad-Billed Motmot

As we left Amagusa Reserve in Mashpi we partially walked/drove down a mountainous pock-marked dirt road toward the Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador. Julia, my guide, noticed a very distinctive bird in a tree. I got out of the vehicle to take its photo and it flew down on the side of the road very near a woman who was working off the side. Then it flew into a tree with another bird, just like it, and Julia was urging me on, "it is eating a spider, quick, get a photo." My camera wouldn't shoot, the card was full. I had to walk back to the car, change cards, and by the time I got some photos the spider was gone. But I got some good photos of the pair. 
The broad-billed motmot is found in portions of northern South America and up into Central America. There are six subspecies, three which have "tail-racquets" and three which don't. The nominate subspecies I saw, Electron platyrynchum platyrynchum, has the tail-racquets and is found west of the Andes from northwest Colombia to southwest Ecuador. 

Much of the upper body is a cinnamon rufous color, much like a hood with eye cutouts, where black feathers, eye and bill poke out.
The bill is broad and flattened, giving it its name, and it has serrated edges and a keel on the upper mandible. 
The broad bill and green-blue chin. 

The keeled ridge on upper mandible.
There is also a small black patch on the center of the chest.  The rest of the body below the hood is greenish-bluish, more greenish upper and more bluish under. It has a very long tail that Wikipedia says changes from blue to black, but the ones I saw looked entirely bluish except for a small black tip. Two racquet-shaped feathers extend below the others, however, to me they look more like feathers and shafts on arrows, sans the arrowheads. Extraordinarily fun and cool. 
It looks a lot like the rufous motmot, but has a larger breast black patch and a blue-green chin. 

They surprisingly do not eat fruit, but predominantly eat cicadas, when available, spiders, centipedes and scorpians, and even small snakes, lizards and frogs.  

1 comment:

  1. I just can't believe how many gorgeous birds you photographed on this trip. Every one is my new favorite. I love the colors and racket tails of this one.