1 minute read

Motmots: Momotidae

Behavior And Reproduction

Motmots appear to be solitary (living alone), but maintain pair bonds (bonds between a mated pair) throughout their lives. When disturbed, a motmot twitches its tail. Motmots are not very active, and are hard to see when they remain still within the forest. They are inactive at night and active during dawn and dusk. Calling is most active during the early morning. Short migrations sometimes occur for motmots; they may leave breeding areas for a month or so. Motmots have a wide range of calls, from soft, rhythmical hoots to squawk-like and cooing noises, which are sounded singly or in a series. Voices can carry for long distances. Males and females sing together as a mating ritual, which also helps to strengthen the bond during the non-breeding season and to maintain the security of their territory.

Mating pairs build nests usually by themselves, but sometimes in the company of other nests, sometimes with more than forty pairs of breeding birds. Nests are usually in burrows in earthen banks, but are sometimes in crevices in rocks. Motmot male-female pairs dig out underground chambers, taking turns at loosening soil and kicking dirt out of the opening. The chamber may be from 5 to 16 feet (1.5 to 5 meters) long in the larger species. Eggs are laid on bare soil, but may also be laid on regurgitated insect parts. Rounded, shiny, and white eggs are usually laid three to five per clutch. Only one clutch per year is normal, unless the clutch is lost to predators or the weather. In those cases, a second clutch is laid after ten to twenty-one days. Eggs are incubated by both sexes during long shifts of up to twenty-four hours at a time. The incubation period is between seventeen and twenty-two days, depending on the species. Chicks hatch blind, featherless, and dependent on their parents. Both sexes care for the brood, feeding them butterflies, moths, other insects, partially digested food, and protein-rich fruits. Young leave the nest from twenty-four to thirty-two days after hatching.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsMotmots: Momotidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Blue-crowned Motmot (momotus Momota): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, MOTMOTS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS