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Nyctibius griseus

Common Potoo

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Nyctibiidae
  • Polytypic 2 Subspecies

Authors: Voudouris, Peter

Nyctibius griseus

Iguazú National Park, Misiones, Argentina; 14 November 2008 © Martjan Lammertink

Common Potoo is a large nocturnal bird of lowland forests and forest edges of southern Central America and the lowlands of northern and central South America. During the day, Common Potoos usually roost on snags, exposed branches or fenceposts, where their disruptive coloration helps them remain avoid detection. They forage at night by sallying from exposed perches to catch flying insects. Common Potoos most frequently are detected by their amazingly haunting, descending song. They also can be located at night with a spotlight by searching for eyeshine at the tops of exposed perches. Common Potoos lay only a single egg, and do not build a nest; the egg is nestled on top of a stump or a broken branch, or in a slight depression on a large tree limb.

Recommended Citation

Voudouris, Peter. 2015. Common Potoo (Nyctibius griseus), 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 edge
  • Foraging Strata:Canopy
  • Foraging Behavior:Sally
  • Diet:Terrestrial invertebrates
  • Sociality:Solitary
  • Mating System:Monogamy
  • Nest Form:No Nest
  • Clutch: 1 - 1
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern