Geographical Range Central and South America, from northeastern Mexico to northern Argentina.
Habitat Open woodlands and edges of tropical rainforests
Scientific Name Momotus momota
Conservation Status Common

Despite its bright plumage, this beautiful bird is hard to spot as it darts through the forest. The motmot flies in short, swift darting moves, leaving only a flash of blue and green as it passes between trees.

Though female blue-crowned motmots are slightly smaller than males, the plumage of the two sexes is identical. In addition to turquoise, green and gold feathers on their breast, back and tail, they sport a crown of black head feathers bordered by a wide band of electric blue. Their long “racquet”-shaped tail feathers are bright blue, and the birds often swing them from side to side when they’re disturbed.

Motmots feed primarily on insects, crushing them in their saw-edged bill. They round out this diet with fruit and occasionally larger prey animals like lizards, frogs, and even mice. If the prey is too large to swallow whole, the birds may club it against a branch to kill it. Blue-crowned motmots have also been observed carrying inedible objects, probably in an attempt to court a mate.

The birds live by themselves or in pairs, never in flocks. Each pair keeps to a particular feeding territory. Like their cousins the kingfishers and bee eaters, motmots dig elaborate nests below the ground, consisting of a large tunnel extending six feet into an earthen bank. Both male and female cooperate in nest building.

Their chicks -- usually three to five per clutch -- hatch blind and completely naked. Each parent takes turns caring for the brood, bringing back insects and fruits to the nest until the young are ready to leave about a month later.

Did You Know?

The word "motmot" is an American-Spanish word coined as an imitation of the call that the birds make.