Common Potoo

By Marla Lise

Scientific Name: Nyctibius griseus

The Common Potoo is native to South and Central America and can be found from Bolivia through to Venezuela. This bird is commonly found in trees but is sometimes hard to spot. The colors of its feathers help it to camouflage against tree bark, making it look like a broken branch if it keeps very still. If you shine a light at a tree branch at night and see a pair of bright orange saucers staring back at you, you might have just found yourself a Potoo. And the Potoo makes a sound like, “Bo-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou,” pretty funny bird isn’t it.

Common Potoo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
These solitary birds are nocturnal, coming out and feeding at night. They are insectivores, which means they feed on creepy crawlies- insects such as moths, fireflies, termites and grasshoppers. Common Potoos are monogamous, staying with 1 partner throughout their lives. The females lay 1 egg at a time during the breeding season.

The Common Potoo is not considered endangered as yet, however there is still a need to conserve it and educate your friends and family about this bird. Forests are being lost all over South and Central America and one day this bird too might lose its home if we don't do anything to make sure that it survives.
Common Potoo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler


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