The Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis) is a nocturnal bird of the order Caprimulgiforme, the same order as that of nightjars. They are often mistaken for owls in appearance and behavior, as they hunt in a similar manner, but they are not related. They have outstanding eyesight and night vision to aid in acquiring their preferred menu which consists mostly of insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and moths, and small vertebrates including smaller birds. They tend to be sedentary, staying put on a perch for long periods, then pouncing on their prey in a quick strike. Their range includes most of South America and parts of Central America.
Potoos are monogamous and males help the females with egg incubation and food procurement for the young.
Potoos possess a few spookie characteristics. They are said to make erie, sorrowful cries directed at the moon, or they can also make soft, flute-like sounds, or conversely they can yell loudly in a “deep” voice. When they close their eyes, their eyelids don’t close completely, allowing them to detect movement and danger at all times.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Caprimulgiformes
- Family: Nyctibiidae
- Genus: Nyctibius
- Species: N. grandis
- Binomial name: Nyctibius grandi
“The great potoo is one weird-looking bird” (3:50):
Question of the Night: What weird bird or strange duck do you fancy?