Potoo Owl : Everything You Need To Know

The Potoo bird, also known as the Great Potoo also called Common Potoo is not restricted to a specific species but can be any of the seven species of birds belonging to the family of Nyctibiidae Genus Nyctibius. They are also known as “Poor-me-ones” because of their callous, haunting sounds.

There are many superstitions and beliefs about catastrophes that strike people who listen to human calls. The sound of the Potoo bird is similar to the sound of moans, wails and groans in the human population. The sound that comes from the Potoo bird creates a sense of terror in the quiet of night that echoes in the dark forests. They are heard more than observed. They are associated with nightjars and frogmouths.

Where Can You Find Them ?

The birds can be found within the tropical regions of Central as well as South America. They are seen within Mexico, Guatemala, and further south in Brazil. The habitat is a dense woodlands, lowland forests, and meadows. There is a geographical variations in the size and plumage.

Potoo Owl Breeds Include:

  • Rufous Potoo A tiny brown bird with a brown-colored body.
  • Great Potoo, the biggest breed of all.
  • Long-tailed Potoo is a breed with extra-long tail feathers.
  • Common Potoo is the most varied and popular Potoo It has two subspecies.
  • White-winged Potoo A Potoo known by its wings that are white.
  • Andean Potoo, a peculiar bird, which lives within the mountain ranges.
  • Northern Potoo, a distinctive kind of Potoo which is located farther north than other varieties. It is home to two subspecies as well as numerous subspecies within it. It is five species.


The Potoo owl measures between 8 and 20 inches long. The head is huge and round. Bill is large and has a bit of a hook at the top. The bird of the Potoo has yellow eyes, jutting out pupils and a wide mouth. The tail and wings are both long.

The feathers on the Potoo owl has a complicated design gray, black and brown, which blends with the bark of the tree. Upper eyelids in the Potoo bird are adorned with tiny folds that create small slits. They can see even with the eyes shut.

It is unclear whether the slit can provide full-view or gives an alert when the light and shadows shift. The change in the slit allows birds to maintain an eye for potential dangers as it is still in the day with its eyes shut. It is the daytime Sleeping Owl.

How They Sleep

Potoo owl rest in a vertical position on dead branches when they rest, and this is also where they sleep and rest . They stay still for extended periods of time. They are usually 10 to 12 meters above the surface. Dusk is the time when they are awake.

In the evening, it decreases to an elevation that is 1.5 to 2 meters over the earth. They can detect their prey even in the dark. The prey is captured with swift, short and quiet flight.

Once the predator has been captured they return to that same tree. If it is in danger the bird will freeze and becomes more difficult to spot it.

Baby Patoo

The newborn Potoo owl is protected by its parents until it develops the white and brown speckled color . It then learns to fly. The feathers begin appearing within two weeks. Each parent together feeds the baby.

The chick is fed via regurgitation during the first few days. The nestling stage lasts two months. The chick is fledged around 47- 50 days from hatching. In this stage it has learned to take on the posture of adults.

What They Eat

Potoo bird is a species of birds insectivore by nature . Potoo bird feeds on insects in nature. The main prey are big insects such as katydids termites, grasshoppers of beetles and locusts. The birds of the Potoo can detect moths as well as other flying insects in the darkness.

They are even able to eat bats and birds at times. They consume the prey in the location of the hunt. If they have a big kill, they transport the carcass back to the nest.

The Potoo bird is able to store its food inside their bodies when they are not able to hunt during night time darkness or are incubating eggs for a prolonged period of time. It is biologically feasible for them to survive only a few hours without food.

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