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Northern Potoo

Common Name Northern Potoo

Scientific Name Nyctibius jamaicensis

Species Birds

Family/Group Nightjars and Potoos



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Camouflaged body, large eyes, and a cavernous mouth.

Habits and Behavior

Rarely seen by day, for they then rest motionless, often high in a tree, looking like an extension of a dead snag or stump. If the bird is unaware of one's presence, its head is hunched into its body and its bill is in a natural, forward position. Usually, however, the potoo will see the observer before you see it, and it then slowly assumes the typical stretched-out position with the bill pointing skyward. More easily seen at night (especially when the moon is full), when the birds may be calling and may be seen perching on a prominent look-out. They feed on insects caught on the wing, usually returning to their original perch after a sally. The nest is nonexistent: a single egg is laid in the small depression or crevice created by a broken-off branch.

Nicaragua Animal Guide