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Oilbird Steatornis caripensis

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Steatornithidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: AndrĂ©s A. del Risco and Alejandra Echeverri del Risco and Alejandra Echeverri

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.


© David W. Snow

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

del Risco, A. A. d. R. a. A. E. and A. Echeverri (2011). Oilbird (Steatornis caripensis), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.