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Jacamars: Galbulidae

Physical Characteristics

Jacamars (ZHAK-uh-mahrz) are glossy, graceful-appearing birds that look like hummingbirds but are really related to woodpeckers, puffbirds, and toucans. They are very noticeable birds because of their jewel-like colors and long, sharp bill. Their bright plumage (feathers) consists of metallic green or blue upperparts, light patches on their throat or breast, a metallic green head, and reddish to dull brown or blackish underparts. Some species have color differences ranging from purple to red or chestnut brown. In many species, the bill is three times as long as the head.

The birds have short legs (except for one species) and zygodactyl (zye-guh-DACK-tuhl) feet (two toes face forward and two point backwards), which helps them grab branches and food while hunting. Unique features of this family include a long appendix (small outgrowth from large intestine), no gall bladder (sac that stores bile), a bare preen gland (oil-secreting sac at tail base), and a long, thin tongue. They have a long tail with ten to twelve tail feathers that are of different lengths and short wings with ten primary feathers. Males and females have similar plumage, although some female species are less colorful on head and neck. Adults are 5.1 to 12.2 inches (13 to 31 centimeters) long.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsJacamars: Galbulidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Jacamars And People, Rufous-tailed Jacamar (galbula Ruficauda): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS