Blue-crowned Motmots

In Costa Rica, Blue-crowned Motmots (Momotus momota) are found throughout most of the Pacific slope in the low to middle elevations and in some areas of the Caribbean slope as well. Blue-crowned Motmots range from northeastern Mexico to Peru and Argentina. These adaptable birds frequent a variety of wooded habitats and can often be seen perched in the shady forest understory.

Immature Blue-crowned Motmot (Momotus momota)

In May of 2007, I observed this immature Blue-crowned Motmot in the forest understory in Alajuela, Costa Rica. I had been making squeaky pishing and kissing sounds in an attempt to attract birds, and this curious Blue-crowned Motmot responded immediately and flew up and perched on a branch just over my head. I could tell that it was an immature because its still short tail feathers lacked the distinctive racket tips of the adults.

Immature Blue-crowned Motmot (Momotus momota)

Blue-crowned Motmots are variably greenish above and ochre below with a distinctive, small, black breast spot, and they have a turquoise-edged crown, red eyes surrounded by a turquoise-edged black mask, a black bill, greenish blue wings, and the adults have a long, racket-tipped tail.

Adult Blue-crowned Motmot (Momotus momota)

This adult Blue-crowned Motmot above was also attracted by my squeaking sounds, but it remained in the treetops and soon returned to its foraging, unlike the much braver immature bird. Blue-crowned Motmots have a varied diet and will happily feed on insects, spiders, small reptiles, and fruit, including bananas at feeders.

Turquoise-browed Motmots (Eumomota superciliosa) look quite similar to Blue-crowned Motmots and are also found in Costa Rica, but they have dark brown eyes, bright rufous behind the eye mask instead of greenish tan, and a large, vertical, turquoise-bordered black throat patch.