Potoo is a class of Caprimulgundidae, birds closely related to the frogmouth and nightjars. They can also be called poor-me-ours, after their hauntingling calls. There are currently seven recognized species in one family, the Nyctibius. This family includes all the migratory birds in the New World and South America. In addition to their charming songs, these birds are also noted for their ability to follow a human foot on the ground.
A potoo sings mainly by making a high-pitched chirping sound. The song is similar to that of a woodpecker or chickadee, but has a larger range than either of them. They have a bright call and a rapid, buzzing, strident tone. A large head, short neck, long narrow wings, short tail and dark chest mark the major identifying features of a Potoo. These body markings help to determine the bird’s gender, although sex is rarely determined when flying insects are present.
Most North American species are grayish-white in color with varying numbers of black feathers in the upper part of the bird. These feathers, called caralluma, reflect the sun’s rays and provide an infrared reflection. Together, they produce a gentle, mellow song. The most common form of this song is a slow, mellow growl. Of the many different types of nocturnal birds in Australia, only two belong to the family of the common potoo. The second, or eastern, species is a bit larger and darker and has a bright red breast, black feathers in the upper part of its wings, a short stout neck and a thick black beard.
The great potoo is one of the most popular of the various potoo species. These small and cute birds are popular as pets all over the world, despite their wild origins. Some have even taken to re-creating their natural habitats and coming up with unique designs for their cages. But there is no doubt that they are extremely entertaining and quite entertaining as well when in the wild. No wonder these great photos are the most commonly taken in bird shows around the world.
Apart, from being nocturnal birds, these small, cute and beautiful birds are some of the best nocturnal birds as well. Most of them like to spend the evening basking in the sunlight on branches of trees. In the evening, they move to a safer spot high up in a tree where they can spot prey such as small lizards and insects. Their keen eyesight, fast reflexes and the ability to move silently make them excellent hunters. In fact, when the prey approaches, it may just come out of hiding to face the predator with surprising agility.
They can be found in all seasons except when winter sets in as they migrate back to their tropical rainforests. In the summer season, they love to frolic on trees, in gardens, in parks, on rock walls and even in bird baths. As for the fall, they are usually found in forests and thickets. During summer, photos and nightjars prefer a wide variety of food but they will feed on almost anything including frogs, mosquito larvae, mosquitoes and slugs. However, certain food items such as worms and earthworms are not liked by nightmares and photos alike.
One of the most fascinating aspects about potoo and nightjars is that they can be used as great nocturnal birds’ camouflage. Nightjars and potoos are perfect species for mimicking the appearance of a wide variety of other nocturnal birds’ species. Their bright colors, bright head feathers and sharp beaks are very much like that of the beautiful barn owl (Brocktonia agrestis), barn owl (Hemicornis bernhardus) and cuckoo (Cucucela cacube). This ability of nightjars and photos to imitate other nocturnal birds is probably due to similarities in body shapes. They have long, broad wings and short bodies which look more like that of swans and ducks than any other bird species.
Because they are widely distributed across Peru, researchers speculate that they may also serve as food for birds in other areas. Potoo, nightjar, and chiricawoo are often found together in rural communities and farm fields in the highlands of Peru. Researchers also believe that the nocturnal birds’ migration and nesting patterns could have benefitted from the large population centers constructed by the jungle megafauna of prehistoric Peruvian highlands.