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Steatornis caripensis


  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Steatornithidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: del Risco, Andrés A., and Alejandra Echeverri

Steatornis caripensis

Chontal, Ecuador; 28 November 2009 © Keefee

The Oilbird (Steatornis caripensis) is a nocturnal frugivore in the order Caprimulgiformes. It is the only species of the family Steatornithidae, and is endemic to South America. Oilbirds roost and breed in colonies inside caves. The largest colony reported (10.000-18.000 individuals) occurs in PN Cueva de los Guacharos in Caripe, Venezuela. Oilbirds inhabit evergreen lowland and montane forests. Their diet mainly consists of fruits from the Lauraceae, Burseraceae, and Palmae plant families. Oilbirds can navigate in the dark using echolocation; they also use smell to locate fruit. They can forage up to 120 km from the cave nightly. They are apparently monogamous and form permanent bonds. Oilbirds are also highly gregarious inside caves. Their bulky nests are built on ledges above cave floor. The clutch size is two to four. Parental care is shared between both adults. The conservation status of the Oilbird is listed as of Least Concern.

Recommended Citation

del Risco, Andrés A., and Alejandra Echeverri. 2011. Oilbird (Steatornis caripensis), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

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
  • Foraging Strata:Midstory/Canopy
  • Foraging Behavior:---
  • Diet:Fruit
  • Sociality:Single-Species Flocks
  • Mating System:Monogamy
  • Nest Form:Saucer
  • Clutch: 2 - 4
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern