Wednesday 16 April 2014


Image: Yanayacu Biological Station
I got myself a guest post! When it comes to big, googly eyes, few can match your average squid, let along a particularly googly-eyed squid. Ernie Allison introduces us to a noble challenger of the feathered kind.

Closely related to nightjars and frogmouths, the Potoo is the avian equivalent of your crazy uncle. You know the one—when he shows up to the family reunion you can’t tell if he’s been hitting the bottle since 9 AM, or just coming off of another Special K bender.

Image: Reinaldo Aguilar
This facial expression is one of several reasons why the butler should be top of your list of suspects
During the day, the Potoo is deceptively demure. A relatively small bird, Potoos masquerade as tree stumps...

Image: Patty McGann
Common Potoo. There are 7 species in all
And quite expertly, I must add.

At dusk, however, they spring into action. The Potoo stalks the balmy nights of Central and South America’s tropics, driving fear into the hearts of its insect prey, presumably stunning victims with its penetrating stare, much like Greek mythology’s Medusa.

Video: James Wolfe
Indeed, ornithologist Mario Cohn-Haft has described the Potoo as, “little more than a flying mouth and eyes.”

Video: jonnytropics

Because its legs are too weak to travel along the ground, the Potoo darts to and from its perch, snapping up moths, grasshoppers, and flying beetles from the air. The examination of at least one Northern Potoo’s stomach contents revealed its ferocious appetite; researchers discovered a small bird that had been swallowed whole.

Image: jpeter4100/Rob Jarvis
Northern Potoo/Crazed Monster
Though the Potoo may have the look of a crazed monster, it has a lot of love in its heart—at least when it comes to matters of family. Potoos are monogamous, which automatically earns them a spot among the world’s more romantic birds.

Video: Aves Brasil
Potoos are also known as Pour-me-ones because of their bluesy call.
Judging from their eyes and the fact they already can't walk, I'd say they've had enough.

Potoo parents share the responsibility of incubating and rearing chicks, doting on their precious little birds for two months (quite a long time for a land bird) until they develop enough downy white feathers to camouflage themselves as fungus.

The Potoo is truly an odd bird. And like many of the animal kingdom’s quirkiest creatures, the Potoo has amassed a cult of followers who demonstrate their adoration with an endless stream of memes.


Ernie Allison is a freelance writer for Bird Feeders who loves researching the world’s weirdest birds. His dream is to go on a birdwatching tour of every continent.


Crunchy said...

Hey, Crazy Uncle Stumpy can't help that he looks like a stump. But it is kind of startling how wide he can open his mouth...

Joseph JG said...

Yeah, it's a bit of a shock. And all for gobbling a few moths!

TexWisGirl said...

wow! cool bird!

Esther said...

Why does this bird look like it should be battery operated?

Lear's Fool said...

I first though it was a moderately good Power Rangers villain. Definitely looks fake. :)

Crunchy said...

The more I look at it the more I think it looks like a prototype owl.

Joseph JG said...

@TexWisGirl: Cool? How very polite of you!

@Esther: It has to be those golf balls for eyes!

@Lear's Fool: Looks like the type that became a villain because of spurned love and bullying.

@Crunchy: True! Most of the major features are present, they're just keeping it all together with gaffa tape and tin foil.

Porakiya said...

Who here has seen the most recent episode of Pokemon: X and Y? THose eyes...they remind me of espurr:

Joseph JG said...

You're right! That mad, glassy stare...

Anonymous said...


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Atraxi said...

I say, these birds should be the stuff of Creepypastas!

Joseph JG said...

Very true!