Rufous Motmot Baryphthengus martii

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

The Rufous Motmot is is the second largest and arguably the most spectacular of the motmots, even though it lacks the bright, iridescent patches of turquoise blue on its head that are characteristic of many other motmot species. The large size, overall rich coloration and contrast between rufous head and underparts and intensely green-blue green back, wings and tail contribute to the striking appearance of this species. It is nearly identical in overall coloration and pattern to the smaller Broad-billed Motmot (Electron platyryhnchum), with which it shares a similar range extending from Honduras south to Peru and Bolivia and east to northwestern Brazil. The Rufous Motmot prefers humid lowland and hill forest where it consumes a large variety of food items ranging from various fruits to invertebrates and even small vertebrates, sometimes in the company of army ants. When foraging, it is a typical low energy specialist sitting quietly on a shaded horizontal branch for long periods of time from which it suddenly darts out after passing insects. It nests in burrows that it digs and/or refurbishes. Like the Blue-crowned Motmot (Momotus coeruliceps), this species swings its tail in a side-to-side pendulum motion when excited, agitated or disturbed (Forshaw and Cooper 1987, Stiles et al. 1989). Considering how spectacular and common this species is in portions of its range, there are relatively few details available on many aspects of its natural history including description of its eggs,  incubation period and fledging time, all of which remain unknown.


© Mary Palmer

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

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.