Animals / Types of Birds / Nightjars, Potoos, Frogmouths and Relatives / Great Potoo - Clever Big Eyes, Hidden in the Forest

Great Potoo - Clever Big Eyes, Hidden in the Forest

potoo eyes open


The great potoo is a species of bird. It is the largest bird of the potoo species and also the largest bird in the order of nightjars and relatives (Caprimulgiformes). It’s a species native to Central and South America, occurring most commonly across Mexico, Guatemala and as far south as Brazil. It’s most likely habitats include dense lowland forest, woodlands and occasionally meadows. They are reliant on trees however for perching and camouflage.



great potoo closing eyes


The great potoo is a very large bird at 19-24 inches (48-60 cm) in length and weighing 12.8 oz – 1.4 lb (360-650 g). Its coloring is mottled light brown and light grey with some black thrown in and it also has large orange-yellow eyes. These bright eyes are the only way to spot this species at night as its plumage is designed perfectly for camouflage. Its call is deep and rasping growl which is repeated consistently when it decides to burst into “song”! It’s also believed to make an extremely loud bark when it’s disturbed.


great potoo eyes wide


great potoo stretched head


This species is a nocturnal predatory species which pounces on its prey and returns to the same perch to continue its search for more food. Its main prey are large insects, beetles, katydids and locusts. Its camouflage plumage means it can pick any tree stump and sit in wait for its prey. During the day, it remains motionless as it attempts to mimic tree branches often pointing its beak towards the sky.


potoo camouflage


The great potoo is a mysterious species that likes to keep itself hidden. The breeding period is thought to be between February and August but it is also claimed that this bird can be found breeding all year round. Its nest is always found at least 33 ft (10m) above ground and only one large white egg is laid at a time. There is very little information regarding the brooding behaviour of this species but from the research we do have it’s believed that the chicks leave the nest when they’re around 8 weeks old. Its not known which of the parents incubates the eggs and guards the chicks as two adult birds have never been seen in the nest at one time.


great potoo daytime sleepy




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