The Potoo is a rare bird that comes from the savannas of Central and South America.
Its scientific name is Nyctibius griseus but according to the region where it lives it receives different names: Common Potoo, Grey Potoo, Lesser Potoo, Ghost bird or Urutau.
It is without doubt one of the rarest animals in the world due to its surprising characteristics.
What does the Potoo look like, what is its habitat, what does it feed on, how does it reproduce, what are its predators?
Although not much research has been done on this rare animal so far, here are the answers.
Physical characteristics and Behavior of the Common Potoo
The Potoo is a small bird that barely measures 40 to 50 centimeters and weighs between 210 and 250 grams.
Its plumage does not present much variation with respect to the common plumage of most birds, it is grey or brown with some black and white spots on its body.
It has a very large and striking pair of eyes that can be orange or yellow. Its eyes are very developed and allow it to see perfectly in the dark, but also give it a somewhat ghostly appearance.
On the other hand, its wings and tail are considerably long, while its legs are short and weak.
Its mouth is very large and wide and contrasts with its beak which turns out to be quite small and disproportionate to the size of its head.
The Potoo has an impressive ability to camouflage itself among trunks and branches, which helps it both to hunt and to go unnoticed by its predators.
In fact, so amazing is this ability that it can spend virtually all day standing on the broken branch of what appears to be an extension of a tree.
If there is one thing that attracts the attention of this strange bird it is its song, because it resembles a person lamenting in a frightening and heartbreaking way.
However, its song descends in scale as it does so. For this reason, many of the people of South America consider it a bird of ill omen.
As for its behavior, the Potoo is a rare and very silent bird, which likes to be alone and has nocturnal habits.
As a result, it is very difficult to see a specimen, which has made it impossible to investigate its characteristics and habits in depth.
Where does the Potoo bird live?
The Potoo can be found in savannahs and forests with a lot of amplitude.
Geographically it is an endemic bird of the center and south of the American continent, so it can be found in a vast territory that goes from the north of Nicaragua to the northwest of Argentina.
What do Potoo birds eat?
Because it is so difficult to observe this bird, its eating habits are not very precisely known.
However, it has been determined that it feeds on all kinds of insects that it can find around it.
Because it is a nocturnal animal, it is in those hours that it captures its prey to feed.
How Potoo is reproduced?
As with feeding, the reproductive habits of this strange bird are not entirely unknown, for example, it is not known in which months they carry out this process.
What is known is that the reproduction of the Potoo is a slow process because the female can only lay one egg.
The egg laid by this strange bird is large and white with grey, purple and brown spots.
Unlike other birds, the Potoo cares little about preparing a safe nest for its future chick, but simply leaves the egg on top of a brittle branch.
Although this procedure does not really indicate that they are bad parents, since the bird has the ability to lay the egg in such a way that it does not fall off the branch.
The egg is cared for by both the male and the female, but both take turns in this task, so the male incubates it during the day and the female does so at night.
For the first few weeks after the egg hatches, both parents are responsible for finding food for the chick and teaching it the basics of self-care and survival.
What are the Predators of this rare bird?
Because this bird has been so little studied, it is not known which animals in the American forests are its natural predators. However, with this bird the same thing happens as with many other rare animals: they have man as their main predator.
In the particular case of the Potoo, due to all the legends and superstitions that revolve around it, it is captured to be used as a symbol of good luck and wealth, while otherwise it is hunted for being considered unlucky.