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Nyctibius grandis

Great Potoo

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Nyctibiidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Adams, Kimberly

Nyctibius grandis

Antioquia, Colombia; 5 December 2008 © Juan D Ramirez Rpo

With its characteristic drawn-out moaning growl, the vocalizations of the Great Potoo are among the most exciting and perhaps most unsettling nocturnal sounds in the Neotropics. Apart from its vocalizations, the Great Potoo is an intriguing species. Great Potoos are nocturnal and feed on large flying insects, and occasionally bats, which they capture in sallies from a high perch. During the day, they remain motionless in mimic of broken tree branches. The Great Potoo is distributed throughout humid and semihumid forested habitats in Central and South America. Across this vast region, there is little geographic variation in size or in plumage; two subspecies sometimes are recognized, but these do not differ greatly from each other. Despite the lack of conspicuous geographic variation, populations on either side of the Andes have been found to be very distinct genetically. This level of divergence is similar to the genetic divergence found between other species of potoo, pointing the possibility for ‘cryptic’ species within the Great Potoo lineage.

Recommended Citation

Adams, Kimberly. 2011. Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=222936

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Tropical lowland evergreen forest edge
  • Foraging Strata:Canopy
  • Foraging Behavior:Sally
  • Diet:Small vertebrates and large arthropods
  • Sociality:Solitary
  • Mating System:Monogamy
  • Nest Form:Scrape
  • Clutch: 1 - 1
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern