Animal Spotlight: Blue-crowned Motmot

Since I arrived in Costa Rica three months ago, I’ve become particularly intrigued by the Blue-crowned Motmot. I usually see one multiple times a day, perched in a number of places on my daily walks around campus. Sometimes I see one out in the open on the clothesline, on the edge of the woods on my way to breakfast, and sometimes on a branch that juts out from the woods right next to my casita.

Over the past three months, I’ve been photographing the Blue-crowned Motmot, observing its behaviors, and becoming more interested in its existence everyday.

The Blue-crowned Motmot can be found in parts of Mexico, Central America, and South America. In Costa Rica, it’s typically found in the Central Valley region, up to 2,000 meters in elevation (Garrigues and Dean, 2007). They’re often found on the UGA Costa Rica campus, as well as other parts of San Luis and Monteverde. I typically spot them in lightly wooded areas on a branch at about average human height.

What I find most intriguing about this Motmot is its distinguished look. It has a black crown that’s encircled with a bright blue ring, serving as one of its most defining features. It also has a blue-green racquet-tipped tail with black tips, which swings like a pendulum when it perches. It has a blue-green back, and its breast is a shade of orange-brown with a small black patch near the neck. It’s bill is dark, slightly curved, and serrated on the upper mandible. The black area on the sides of its head makes the red eyes stand out.

The Blue-crowned Motmot is largely insectivorous but may also consume spiders and reptiles. The birds tend to live in pairs, but they forage for food alone. When I see the bird on campus, I typically only see one at a time, but occasionally see two.

FUN FACT: Blue-crowned Motmots dig their nests into burrows, winding into the ground up to 14 ft. deep (“Featured Bird,” 2010).

Scientific Name Family Order Class
Momotus momota Momotidae Coraciiformes Aves

Article and photos: Kristy L. Densmore, photojournalism intern


“Featured Bird: Blue-crowned Motmot.” Osa Conservation, 26 July 2010. Web. 6 Feb. 2013.

Garrigues, Richard, and Robert Dean. The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2007. Print.

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