momotidae

Blue-diademed Motmot - Momotus lessonii How to deter a predator without having to flee

Also commonly known as Blue-crowned Motmot, Momotus lessonii (Coraciiformes - Momotidae) is a beautiful bird found in Mexico and Central America (Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama).

Momotus lessonii is a relatively large and slow-flying forest bird, it builds conspicuous nest tunnels in mud banks, and it often forages on the ground, sallying from the same predictable perch. These particular behaviors increase the Blue-diademed Motmot’s vulnerability predators, but to deter predators this motmot (as all species in the family), repeatedly wag their long tails from side to side like a pendulum, drawing immediate attention to their tail, in a tail wag display, which tells predators that it is aware of their presence and is prepared to flee. 

These non-aggressive signals from prey to predator are advantageous for both: the predator wastes no energy on what would be an unsuccessful attack and the prey conserves energy by avoiding the need to escape. 

Reference: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Marcelo Camacho | Locality: Panama (2012)

Turquoise-browed Motmot - Eumomota superciliosa

The Turquoise-browed Motmot, Eumomota superciliosa (Coraciiformes - Momotidae) is a colorful bird distributed in México and Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua).

Both male and female Turquoise-browed Motmot have long tails that terminate in widened blue-and-black rackets that appear to hang, unattached, below the body of the bird. In this species, males’ tail length aids in sexual selection; males with longer tails have greater pairing and reproductive success.

These birds are colonial-breeding, socially monogamous that exhibits biparental care.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Jerry Oldenettel (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) | Locality: La Ensenada, Costa Rica (2008)

Keel-billed Motmot (Electron carinatum)

…a species of Motmot (Momotidae), a family of birds related to the rollers, that occurs in Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemalta, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Keel-billed motmots were formerly native to Mexico as well but no longer exist there. E. carinatum typically inhabits sub/tropical moist lowland and montane forests, and like other motmots its diet consists mainly of small vertebrates and fruit.

Currently Electron carinatum is listed as Vulnerable and faces threats from habitat loss.

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Coraciiformes-Momotidae-Electron-E. carinatum

Image: Dominic Sherony

Blue-crowned Motmot

The male of Momotus momota (Coraciiformes - Momotidae), a beautiful, large motmot, is about 40 cm in length, and the female is slightly smaller. In plumage, however, the sexes are indistinguishable. In both, the crown is black, bordered all around by a wide band of blue, which covers most of the forehead.

The Blue-crowned motmot ranges from northeastern Mexico to northwestern Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia, Trinidad, and northern Argentina.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Roger Sargent | Locality: Near Charlotteville. Northern Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago