Turquoise-browed Motmot: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Turquoise-browed motmots facts, common in Central America from south-east Mexico to Costa Rica.

What does any animal do when it senses predators? They run and escape to save their lives! But, have you ever heard about the bird species that does wag-display with its tail to notify its predator that it has been seen and hunting is impossible? We are talking about the turquoise-browed motmot of the motmot family. Motmot is a medium-sized bird with a signature tail native to Central America.

They are the most common bird species in Central America, from the Yucatan Peninsula of southeastern Mexico to Costa Rica. In addition, they are widespread in Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. This is the national bird of Nicaragua and El Salvador where they are given the names Guardburranco, which means ravine-guard, and Torogoz based on its call. In Yucatan, they are called pájaro reloj, meaning clock bird, referring to its tail wagging in a pendulum fashion. In Costa Rica, they are called the far less flattering pájaro bobo or Momoto cejeceliste, meaning foolish bird, because of its behavior to allow humans to come close to it rather than flying.

To explore more birds, check our articles on toco toucan facts and western bluebird facts.

Turquoise-browed Motmot

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Worms, Insects, Small Reptiles, Seeds, Grains, Nuts, Fruit

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

2.3 oz (65 g )

How long are they?

13 in (34 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Gray-Blue, Reddish-Brown, Blue, Olive Green

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Humans, Snakes, Birds of Prey, Gray Foxes, Feral Cats, Dogs

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Shrublands, Gallery Forests, Forest Edges, Fences, Wires


Central America





Scientific Name

Eumomota superciliosa





Turquoise-browed Motmot Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a turquoise-browed motmot?

A turquoise-browed motmot (Eumomota superciliosa) is a medium-sized, colorful bird with a long tail, belongs to the motmot family of Momotidae.

What class of animal does a turquoise-browed motmot belong to?

A turquoise-browed motmot (Eumomota superciliosa) belongs to the class Aves.

How many Turquoise-browed Motmots are there in the world?

As per the IUCN Red List, the population size of turquoise-browed motmots (Eumomota superciliosa) in the world is roughly 50,000 - 5 million.

Where does a turquoise-browed motmot live?

A turquoise-browed motmot (Eumomota superciliosa) lives in open places like scrublands, forest edges, and gallery forests. It is one among the more conspicuous motmot species and found perching in open on fences and wires.

What is a turquoise-browed motmot's habitat?

A Turquoise-browed motmot's preferred habitats are open, semi-dry regions of forest edge, grazing pastures, and shrubbery. Very few of them inhabit the tropical areas, particularly the less dense or cleared areas of forests. They never prefer dense rain forests. Depending on the location, they make long tunnels as their nest, maybe in a quarry, terrace wall, earth bank, freshwater well, or sandbank near the river. The length of their tunnel nest may range between 40 and 60 in (101.6-152.4 cm). They are present in large numbers in the semi-desert part of Motagua valley in Guatemala, being among the numerous birds in that region.

Who do turquoise-browed motmots live with?

Turquoise-browed motmots live in pairs and are social birds that live in small groups nesting in large colonies.

How long does a turquoise-browed motmot live?

Turquoise-browed motmots of the motmot family live nearly 12 to 14 years.

How do they reproduce?

There is a sexual selection, where females want the males with long tails for pairing and reproduction. Once they select their mate, they show fidelity to each other and may live in pairs for many years, during which they inhibit the same locality and probably the same nest.

Their mating season incepts in March, and by the end of the month, their burrows are ready for eggs to be laid in April or May. The breeding pairs excavate their long tunnel nests close together, and both male and female birds participate in digging their burrows. The female can breed twice in a season and lays a clutch of three to six white eggs each time. Then, both the parents take part in incubation which lasts for nearly three weeks. Upon hatching, the chicks are altricial, born blind, completely helpless, and are featherless with pink skin. The young birds may take 25 days to 1 month to fly until they remain in their burrows.

What is their conservation status?

According to IUCN Red List, the conservation status of these birds is of the Least Concern and not in danger. However, a decrease in their population is possible due to habitat loss because of deforestation and fragmentation. In El Salvador, these birds are considered Endangered.

Turquoise-browed Motmot Fun Facts

What do turquoise-browed motmots look like?

Turquoise-browed motmots have a blue-bordered black patch on the throat.

Turquoise-browed motmot is a medium-sized colorful bird. Their flight feathers are lovely, olive green, grey-blue, and black colors arranged in a pattern. Their upper body and belly are primarily rufous. Their outer tail feathers have a similar colored pattern to those of flight feathers, with only grey-blue and black showing out and the back of tail feathers is black. They have longer bare feather shafts than any other motmot. Their two central tail feathers are unique, with barbs missing in the middle forming two disc-shaped rackets at the tips. It is believed that these birds pluck their missing barbs themselves to create the racketed-tail, but it is not true. Those barbs are weakly attached and fall off during regular preening or may be due to abrasion with substrates.

They have a bright blue strip above the eye. In addition, they have a black bill from whose base starts a black line that surrounds the eye extending to the ear. They also have a blue-bordered black patch on the throat. Males and females look similar in appearance, except that males have slightly longer tail feathers than females.

How cute are they?

They are beautiful birds with unique and vibrant colors. The turquoise color and the bird's long tail feathers enhance its beauty and intrigued many bird watchers, naturalists, and photographers. In some places, they are called Talapo, because of the beauty observed in its plumage.

How do they communicate?

Like any other bird, a turquoise-browed motmot senses its surroundings through visual, tactile, chemical, and auditory stimuli. Motmots are generally quiet, but the adults make a loud, deep, and gruff sound during the breeding season, such as a long 'cawaalk' or 'cawak cawak' in repetition. The chicks make a 'cheep' sound while begging for food. Their tails serve the interspecies communication in both sexes, and they move back and forth like a pendulum to scare away the intruders.

How big is a turquoise-browed motmot?

Turquoise-browed motmots are nearly 13 in (33.02) long. They are two times longer than a tody motmot, the smallest motmot.

How fast can a turquoise-browed motmot fly?

The speed of flying of turquoise-browed motmot is unknown. They are non-migratory and fly short distances in wavy and rapid motion.

How much does a turquoise-browed motmot weigh?

A turquoise-browed motmot weighs nearly 2.3 oz (65.2 gm).

What are the male and female names of the species?

They are called male turquoise-browed motmots and female turquoise-browed motmots as they do not have any particular names based on their sex.

What would you call a baby turquoise-browed motmot?

Baby turquoise-browed motmots do not have any specific names and are called chicks in general.

What do they eat?

The turquoise-browed motmots eat insects like spiders, beetles, dragonflies, bees, and butterflies. Small reptiles and fruits are also part of their diet.

Are they friendly?

When humans are concerned, we cannot say whether motmots are friendly or not, but sure to say they cause no danger to anyone in any way. Moreover, they positively impact our lives by controlling the insect population and dispersing fruit seeds. They are friendly with the same species from the instance that they work together with other mating pairs to dig their tunnels. They are advantageous to other birds like rough-winged swallows that use motmot burrows to lay their eggs.

Would they make a good pet?

They should not be made a pet since they are wild birds and can not survive well in captivity. Moreover, these motmot birds are a sign of family unity shown in how both parents care for the young.

Did you know...

Turquoise-browed motmots are hardworking and dig long tunnels, and the longest tunnel known is 8 ft (244 cm).

What is unique about the turquoise-browed motmot?

Turquoise-browed motmots are unique in their two cental signature tail feathers with barbs missing in the middle and racketed shape at the end, standard in both sexes. The tail feathers are used for sexual selection, where males with longer tails have more pairing success. They move their tail back and forth like a pendulum in the presence of a predator. The wag display is performed to convey to the predator that it has been noticed and that their pursuit will be in vain.

How did the Turquoise-browed Motmot get its name?

Turquoise-browed motmot bird got its name from the characteristic turquoise-colored brow above its eye.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our blue jay facts and hyacinth macaw facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Turquoise-browed mot mot coloring pages.



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