Rufous Motmot Baryphthengus martii

  • Order: Coraciiformes
  • Family: Momotidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors: Terry L. Master

Diet and Foraging


The Rufous Motmot feeds on a wide variety of items ranging from invertebrates to small vertebrates and various fruits.  Invertebrates consumed include larval and adult insects of many types (including beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, katydids, roaches and wasps), arachnids (including spiders, scorpions and whip scoprions), centipedes, millipedes and small crustaceans (Forshaw and Cooper 1987). Wetmore (1968) found a whole crab among the stomach contents of an individual collected at Gatun on the Panama Canal. Vertebrates eaten range from small fish to lizards and frogs (Snow 2001). Master (1998, 1999) observed an adult Rufous Motmot feeding a Green and Green and Black Poison Dart Frog  (Dendrobates auratus) © Terry MasterBlack Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates auratus) to another adult individual, presumably as a courtship offering. Animal prey are often captured in low vegetation or from the ground, sometimes in the company of mixed-species flocks following army ants (Snow 1981). Plant material consumed includes the fruits of nutmegs (Virola), palms, berries and Heliconia (often plucked while hovering) as well as seeds of Inga and Protium which have been observed being fed to nestlings (Skutch 1971, Snow 2001).  One third of stomachs analyzed contained only fruit and a slightly smaller proportion contained both fruit and arthropods (Snow 1991). The larger motmot species, including the Rufous Motmot, typically consume a greater proportion of fruit than the smaller species (Snow 2001).

Foraging Behavior

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Recommended Citation

Master, T. L. (2011). Rufous Motmot (Baryphthengus martii), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.