Blue Crowned Mot Mot

(Momotus momota)
A “must see” bird for visitors to the Asa Wright Nature Centre is the Blue Crowned Mot Mot. This special bird is the only native and the most widespread species of a peculiar nine-member family of Neotropical birds, well distributed throughout Central and South America. Members of this Mot Mot family are particularly known for the unique feathered racquet shapes at the end of their tails. This feature is the physiological signature of all nine species, visible among adult birds as the barbs along the lower tail naturally drop off. This tail feature can easily be used to distinguish them from other birds like Kingfishers and Todies to which they are related. This is merely one of several peculiarities of Mot Mots which are possibly so named because of the simple two note vocalisation of our native species. These features, along with their habit of living/nesting in burrows which they carve or occupy from vacant holes left by mammals (some of which occur along banks of the aptly named “Mot Mot Trail”) add to their special characteristics. Persons keen on seeing the Blue Crowned Mot Mot have a very good chance during visits to the Centre, especially during the early morning and late afternoon periods, while sitting on the Verandah or on forest walks where Mot Mots may be seen sitting quietly within the forest understory. On such sightings the Mot Mot may also be observed flying between its perch and skilfully plucking berry-type fruits off trees or hawking for invertebrates. On odd occasions the Blue Crowned Mot Mot has also been observed attacking other birds’ nests and even eating small vertebrates like lizards and small snakes. Many visiting wildlife photographers are constantly on the lookout for Mot Mots which make a brilliant photograph in any light, so much so that it adorns our Trinidad and Tobago five dollar bill; a clear indication of its popularity. Want to see what all the hype is about?