Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tree Snag Birds

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hey, what's that up there on the end of the snag? Can you see it?

Let's look more closely... It's a bird—a common potoo, to be specific. Potoos are similar to our North American nightjars—the whip-poor-wills and relatives—in that they are large-mouthed, nocturnal birds that fly around catching and eating large flying moths and other insects.

Part of the common potoo's survival strategy during the day, when it's resting, is to use its cryptic plumage to blend in. It perches on top of a broken tree stub or branch, and points its bill and head upward, looking for all the world like a part of the tree. Look how well this bird blends in!

We were taken to a roosting common potoo by our guide at Asa Wright Nature Centre. The bird was perched on a distant snag, inside the canopy, but we were able to digiscope it. While taking photographs and a bit of video, we saw something remarkable happen.

Here's the video I took, combined with a clip I shot a few days later. I hope you enjoy it.

I am trying to imagine being that fledgling common potoo, roosting in its mother's (presumably its mother, though it could be its father) breast feathers. It was about 90 degrees where we were standing. How hot would it be inside those feathers? I shudder to think.

Anyway, you have now been potoo'd here at Bill of the Birds—not by just one potoo, but by two!


On August 18, 2009 at 7:46 PM cyberthrush said...

That is just (po)too cooool!

On August 18, 2009 at 9:17 PM Texas Travelers said...

Great post
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you know how much I like your blog.
I Like the great photos and writeups.

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Click here to see the blog.
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The new blog is barebones right now, with just the masthead and two posts.

Come visit and tell me what you think,

On August 18, 2009 at 9:18 PM Susan Ellis said...

Wow! and then there were two! Beautiful capture! thank you

On August 19, 2009 at 7:46 AM Dan Huber said...

amazing, thanks for sharing this


On August 19, 2009 at 8:19 AM Julie Zickefoose said...

I like the Groucho eyebrows on Baby.

On August 19, 2009 at 12:33 PM Glenn said...

We missed Potoos last year on our trip to Asa but at least got them on our first trip. Great shots of it!

On August 19, 2009 at 2:45 PM Caroline said...

The highlight of my parents' trip to Guatemala 3 years ago was the potoo. They have been birding for almost 70 years and my dad absolutely fell for the several potoos they saw. All time favorites along with some of the treasures they saw in Kenya.

On August 21, 2009 at 1:37 AM Jack said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
On August 27, 2009 at 1:19 PM Anonymous said...

That's killer! That bird has one of the most recognizable voices in the tropics. nice pics!