Monday, April 3, 2023

Andean Motmot

We recently got back from a March trip to Colombia. Part of the trip included some birding with guides, largely inspired by an experience in Ecuador the year before in the cloud forest near Mindo.  There I was introduced to the world of colorful and exotic tanagers, toucans, parrots and other species of birds I'd never heard the names of before. One of those other species was the broad-billed motmot,  a large bird which was a mixture of blue, turqoise, green and orangish brown with a very long tail with what look like arrow feathers at the end, known as a raquet-tail. 

As we planned our trip and I looked at some of the birds we might encounter I was particularly desirous to see the Andean motmot, now familiar with the motmot name from our Ecuador trip. I googled a photo of one and saw the characteristic racquet-tail. 

When we got to Tinamu Reserve, a birding area near Manizales in the Cordillera Central (the central set of three mountain ranges comprising the Andes in Colombia), we saw an Andean motmot the first day and I was thrilled. 
It is found in the Andes from Bolivia to Colombia, but only on the eastern side except in Colombia, where it is found in all three cordilleras. 

There are 14 species of motmot. Something I just learned is that the bare racquet-tail is created when barbs on the tail feather shafts fall off due to abrasion from preening or contact with substrates. 
The Andean motmot has green on the back, wings, throat, breast and belly; a black crown surrounded by turquoise blue, a black mask surrounded by turqoise blue, a black spot on the center of the breast and dark blue racquet-tails. 

At Tinamu Reserve, our guide Hernando showed us a hole in a bank that he said was for motmots. I was incredulous. How does that bird get in that hole and then turn around?  

1 comment:

  1. This may be my favorite bird of the trip. It is so distinct with its funky tail and vibrant colors. I love the name too--mot mot. So much to love.