Wild Facts About The Potoo Bird Prove It Is The Strangest Creature On The Planet
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There are an estimated 8.7 million species on the planet: that’s a lot of very different animals. From jellyfish to elephants, most species don’t have a lot of similarities, but, when it comes to being unique, there is one animal that takes the cake.
Ladies and gents, please meet the potoo! It’s a bird that doesn’t look like any you’ve ever seen in your backyard — and it doesn’t act like one either.
Once you know these facts about the potoo, you’ll understand.
Strange Facts About The Potoo
1. Where Does The Potoo Live
Potoos are most often found in Central and South America along the Amazon Basin. But these birds have been around the world, too. Potoo fossils were found in France and Germany, and date back some 40 million years.
2. Different Potoo Species
There are seven different known species of Potoo, and some of them look quite different. The two most common being the great potoo (left) and the common potoo (right). As you can see, they’re unique looking creatures.
3. Potoos Are Nocturnal
Potoos are nocturnal creatures. That means they are the most active during nighttime and are usually asleep during the day. All of their hunting is done under the cover of the night.
4. The Potoo’s Eyes
They have two distinguishing features that are hard to miss: The first? They have eyes that are very large and bulge out of their heads like something out of a cartoon. The other trait they share is even more out of this world. During the day, the common potoo’s eyes are yellow, but at night, they turn orange. It’s like a mood ring in their faces!
5. Potoos Can See You With Their Eyes Closed
Even even with their eyes closed, Potoos can still detect your presence. That’s because they have these narrow slits at the base of their eyelids… These aren’t just for decoration: the slits help them sense movement. This also helps them detect approaching shadows when they are sleeping.
6. The Potoo’s Massive Mouth
The unique look of their eyes isn’t the only odd trait these birds have. They have a massive oral orifice, despite their small beaks. It’s good that they do, too! As a matter of fact, this feature is totally essential to their survival. This helps them hunt and feed in the pitch black rainforest.
7. Why Potoos Have A Huge Mouth
When they hunt, they use their large mouths like a net. It helps them catch more insects, like moths, beetles, and other flying bugs, when it’s dark out. Although they largely eat insects, some potoos have been found with small birds digesting in their stomachs. It just goes to show you what you can catch when you toss a wide net.
8. Potoos Are Lazy
These silly looking creatures may sound strange or scary, but in reality, they are pretty lazy birds. They tend to have perches where they sit and will usually never go too far from their stump. Sailors have reported the occasional potoo stowaway, but that’s probably because they’re too lazy to swim back to shore.
9. Potoos Are Monogamous
These birds are happiest in monogamous relationships. They might mate with a few different potoos at first, but once they find the one, they stay with them indefinitely.
10. Baby Potoos!
Baby potoo hatch from their eggs about a month after the female produces them. During the day, the male will incubate the egg, but at night, both male and female will incubate it together. The babies remain in the nest for about two months after hatching.
11. The Great Potoo’s Unsettling Sound
The great potoo has a distinct and unsettling vocal sound. Scientists have described it as a loud tiger-like or frog-like “baaaaao” sound. They vocalize in spaced-out intervals and typically become the most vocal on moonlit nights.
12. The Common Potoo’s Distinct Sound
Like the great potoo, the common potoo also has a distinct vocal call. But its vocalizations are much more melancholy. People describe it as a hauntingly beautiful wailing sound that starts out loud and high pitched before gradually dropping.
13. Potoos And The Moon
The common potoo also becomes more vocal on nights where the moon is out. Because of this, many sad and spooky folktales have been passed down regarding the potoo.
14. The Legend About The Potoo
The Shuar people of Ecuador believe the potoo’s cry comes from a sad spirit who is in love with the moon. The legend says that a man became angry with his wife and took off towards the sky. She tried to follow him, but fell back down to the earth and transformed into a bird, and he into the moon. Never being able to reach her love again, she spends her nights crying at the moon.
15. The Potoo’s Camouflage
If it weren’t for their loud vocalizations, you might end up missing them because they are exceptional at camouflaging themselves. Their marbled gray and brown feathers blend in perfectly with tree bark.
16. The Potoo Looks Like A Tree Branch
Not only are their features great for camouflaging, but their demeanor is as well. They will pick a random spot on a tree to sit down. Then, they’ll squint their eyes and fluff the feathers on their head to resemble a broken-off tree branch.
17. Potoo Feathers Are Used In Native Ceremonies
Because of their mystique, there are parts of Brazil where native people believe that the feathers of a potoo contain powers, and they use them in ceremonies.
Photos of Potoo Birds
We know you haven’t had enough of the potoo yet, so here are a few more photos for your viewing pleasure!
Isn’t this bird simply captivating? If you’ve ever seen a stranger creature, we dare you to prove it!