Blue-crowned Motmot

(Momotus momota)


The end of a Blue-crowned motmot's tail is referred to as a "racket" tip. The feathers don't grow in that way -- they grow in like any other feathers, but the motmot prunes them down to create this distinctive feature.

Both the male and female blue-crowned motmot have green and blue plumage with a chestnut chest. They have a large head with a blue crown, black eye mask around red eyes, and a short serrated beak. Their most distinguishing features are their long central tail feathers that feature bare sections near the tips.  These oddly shaped feathers are often twitched back and forth like the pendulum of a clock -- a peculiar behavior that is typical of motmots.  Their call is a repeated “mot-mot” sound which is the source of their common name. Motmots build elaborate underground nests that they dig during the rainy season and use several months later.  One of the hypothesized reasons for this time gap is to hide the evidence of their nest when they actually lay their eggs.  


Mexico, Central and South America


Forests and woodlands.


Insects and lizards, occasionally fruit.


Blue-crowned motmots dig tunnel nests that may reach 5-14 feet in depth with a nesting chamber at the end. The female lays 3-4 white eggs, which are incubated for 21 days. Both parents share the responsibility of caring for the young.


Not Under Threat (Least Concern)

At the Aviary

Tropical Forest