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Lesser Potoo


The Common Potoo, Grey Potoo or Lesser Potoo (Nyctibius griseus), is a nocturnal bird which breeds in tropical Central and South America from Costa Rica to northern Argentina and northern Uruguay. The Northern Potoo (N. jamaicensis) was formerly classified as a subspecies of this species.

This potoo is a large cypselomorph bird related to the nightjars and frogmouths, but like other potoos it lacks the bristles around the mouth found in the true nightjars. It is 33-38cm long and pale greyish to brown, finely patterned with black and buff, camouflaged to look like a log; this is a safety measure to help protect it from predators, but its mode of perch is also a camouflage. It has large orange eyes.

The Common Potoo can be located at night by the reflection of light from its eyes as it sits on a post, or by its haunting melancholic song, a BO-OU, BO-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou dropping in both pitch and volume.

It is a resident breeder in open woodlands and savannah. It avoids cooler montane regions, rarely occurring over 1,900 meters ASL even in the hottest parts of its range. Also, arid regions are usually avoided; for example in the dry Caribbean plain of Colombia the species was first recorded in April 1999. In gallery forest-type environment around the Uruguayan-Brazilian border, it is by no means uncommon. A bit further south, where the amount of wood- versus grassland is somewhat lower, it is decidedly rare, and due west, in the Entre Rios Province of Argentina with its abundant riparian forest it is likewise not common. The birds at the southern end of their range may migrate short distances northwards in winter.Cuervo et al. (2003), Strewe & Navarro (2004), Azpiroz & Menendez (2008).

This nocturnal insectivore hunts from a perch like a shrike or flycatcher. During the day it perches upright on a tree stump, and is completely invisible, looking like part of the stump because it stays so completely still as it perches. If disturbed by larger animals, such as Common Marmosets (Callithrix jacchus), it may break its camouflage and try to chase them away howeverde Lyra-Neves et al. (2007).

The single egg is white with lilac spots. It laid directly in a depression in a tree limbE.g. of Cecropia: Greeney et al. (2004), usually some meters above ground. It is not clear whether there can be, on occasion, two eggs in a clutch.Greeney et al. (2004)

This widespread species is not considered threatened by the IUCN.


(2008): Three new species and novel distributional data for birds in Uruguay. Bull. B.O.C. 128(1): 38-56.

(2003): New and noteworthy bird records from the northern sector of the Western Andes of Colombia. Bull. B. O. C. 123(1): 7-24. PDF fulltext

(2007): Comportamentos interespecificos entre Callithrix jacchus (Linnaeus) e algumas aves de Mata Atlantica, Pernambuco, Brasil [Interspecific behaviour between Callithrix jacchus (Linnaeus) and some birds of the Atlantic forest, Pernanbuco State, Brazil]. Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 24(3): 709716 [Portuguese with English abstract]. PDF fulltext.

(2004): Notes on breeding birds from an Ecuadorian lowland forest. Bull. B.O.C. 124(1): 28-37. PDF fulltext

(2004): New and noteworthy records of birds from the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region, north-eastern Colombia. Bull. B.O.C. 124(1): 38-51.

Further reading

(1991): A guide to the birds of Trinidad and Tobago (2nd edition). Comstock Publishing, Ithaca, N.Y.. ISBN 0-8014-9792-2

(2003): Birds of Venezuela. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-6418-5

External links

Common Potoo videos, photos & sounds on the Internet Bird Collection

"Common Potoo" photo gallery VIREO

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Lesser Potoo

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