Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Common Potoo

I first heard of a potoo a few months ago in preparation for a visit to Jamaica and a short time later saw a northern potoo there. A month later we found ourselves in Colombia, at Tinamu Reserve, and I encountered a common potoo. The northern potoo and common potoo were considered to be one species until 1995 when they were split into two species primarily because of differences in their vocalizations. 
It has mottled red-brown, white, black and gray plumage and does body positions that allow it to blend in to tree branches. So it hides in plain sight. The two I've seen have had their eyes closed, but they have slits, or rippled notches in their eyelids that allow them to see even with their eyes closed. When they do open their eyes they are huge and they have the ability to constrict the pupils in their eyes, so they can have giant yellow irises with small black pupils or huge black pupils with small yellow irises. They also have extremely large mouths, so photos with their eyes and mouths open are quite shocking. 
Note the ripples in the eyelids that allows it to see even with its eyes closed.  
The common potoo range is portions of Central America down through the upper two-thirds of South America, except for large portions of the east coast. The northern potoo range is north with little or no overlap in Central America.  
Common potoo range from Wikipedia. 

1 comment:

  1. Cool information about the eyes. It sounds like something from a Harry Potter movie.