Amazonian Motmot Momotus momota

  • Order: Coraciiformes
  • Family: Momotidae
  • Polytypic: 8 subspecies
  • Authors: Sophia Catherine Orzechowski and Thomas S. Schulenberg


Geographic Variation

Eight subspecies currently recognized:

microstephanus Sclater 1857; type locality "Interior of New Grenada" (= the vicinity of Villavicencio, Colombia)

Occurs from Colombia and Ecuador east to northwestern Brazil.

momota (Linneaus 1766); type locality Cayenne

Occurs from Venezuela east to the Guianas and south to the north bank of the Amazon

See Detailed Appearance.

ignobilis Berlepsch 1889; type locality Yurimaguas, Perú

eastern Peru and adjacent western Brazil

nattereri Sclater 1857; type locality Yungas, Bolivia

Occurs in northern Bolivia

pilcomajensis Reichenow 1919; type locality Villa Montes, Río Pilcomayo, Bolivia

Occurs from southern Bolivia east to south central Brazil, and south to northwestern Argentina and southern Brazil

simplex Chapman; type locality Santarem, Brazil

Occurs in central Brazil south of the Amazon, from western Brazil east to the west bank of the Rio Tapajós

paraensis Sharpe 1892; type locality Pará, Brazil

Occurs in eastern Brazil south of the Amazon, from the east bank of the Rio Tocantins east to Maranhão and Piauí.

cametensis Snethlage 1912; type locality Cametá, west bank of the Rio Tocantins, Brazil

Occurs south of the Amazon in eastern Brazil, from the east bank of the Rio Tapajós east to the west bank of the Rio Tocantins

Related Species

The Amazonian Motmot was classified as a separate species by most early authorities (e.g. Cory 1918, Chapman 1923), until Peters (1945) included it within a broadly defined, polytypic Momotus momota; as recognized by Peters, Momotus momota also included the taxa currently assigned to Momotus coeruleiceps (Blue-crowned Motmot), Momotus subrufescens (Whooping Motmot), Momotus bahamensis (Trinidad Motmot), and Momotus aequatorialis (Andean Motmot). The Peters concept of a broadly defined species, with a geographic range extending from Mexico south to southern Brazil, was widely followed for many years.

A very recent and thorough study was conducted by Stiles (2009). The criteria for redefining the species of Momotus were generated by detailed analyses of external measurements, plumage patterns and primary 'hooting' call. Stiles focused on 10 taxa in regions within Nicaragua, northern Peru, Trinidad, Tobago and Guyana. The species limits were drawn on the basis of two general criteria: "diagnosability, and the probability that differences observed would assure maintenance of reproductive isolation should currently allopatric groups enter into contact" (Stiles 2009). Based upon the results of his analyses, Stiles concluded that the genus Momotus can be broken into five species-level taxa: M. coeruleiceps, M. aequatorialis, M. bahamensis, M. subrufescens and M. momota.

Recommended Citation

Orzechowski, S. C. and T. S. Schulenberg (2011). Amazonian Motmot (Momotus momota), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.