Blue-crowned Motmot (Momotus coeruliceps)

Blue-crowned Motmot

Blue-crowned Motmot

[order] CORACIIFORMES | [family] Momotidae | [latin] Momotus coeruliceps | [UK] Blue-crowned Motmot | [FR] Motmot houtou | [DE] Blauscheitel-Motmot | [ES] Momoto Comun | [NL] Blauwkapmotmot


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Green upperparts, green or rufous underparts depending on subspecies (very variable how dark), black central spot on upper breast, blue crown, black eyemask sometimes edged pale at the back. Tail is green with blue lower tail with two longest feathers showing an area missing barbs followed by an area with barbs (rackets); the tip of these feathers is black in some subspecies. Notice that the tail feathers are normal when growing, the barbs fall off shortly after, and it is therefore possible to see a bird of this species that is missing rackets (feathers may also break below the rackets).

Listen to the sound of Blue-crowned Motmot

[audio: Motmot.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 20 cm
size min.: 38 cm size max.: 43 cm
incubation min.: 23 days incubation max.: 27 days
fledging min.: 29 days fledging max.: 32 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


Middle America : Northeast, Central Mexico. Occurs on the Caribbean slope from northeastern Mexico (north to Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas) south to Costa Rica, although very local on the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica; and on the Pacific slope from southwestern Mexico (Chiapas) south to western Panama, east to the Azuero Peninsula.


In various parts of Central America, itreside in many kinds of environments. The blue-crowned motmot can exist in the Pacific lowlands, with long and severe dry seasons, in deforested highland areas inhabiting coffee plantations, with low shade trees, patches of light secondary woods, thickets, hedgerows, shady gardens, and wooded ravines.


The nest is at the end of a burrow or tunnel in the ground or in the side of a small bank; tunnels are up to 2 m long. The eggs are laid in a small cavity at the end of the tunnel; the nest does not contain any lining. The clutch is three eggs, white and unmarked. Both sexes incubate. The incubation period lasts about three weeks. The nestling period typically is 29-32 days (although 38 days at one nest). In Costa Rica, nests are excavated August-October, during the wet season, but egg-laying is in March or April. In Costa Rica, Blue-crowned Motmots are single-brooded.

Feeding habits

They are largely insectivorous, but they vary their diet and will consume fruits. Beetles appear to be their principal food source, and among other kinds they capture many dung-beetles. Other insects taken include large cicadas, phasmids or stick-insects, large green othopterans, and larvae of various kinds. Spiders and small lizards are also occasionally captured. The blue-crowned motmot has two ways of dealing with prey before it is consumed. One practice is taking the prey and beating it against the bird’s own perch until it becomes inactive, often until it is badly disfigured, before it is swallowed or carried to the young chicks. Other times the food is dispatched with while still on the ground. Occasionally birds accompany a swarm of army ants to catch the insects, spiders, lizards and other creatures which the ants drive from concealment in the ground foliage and make readily available to the foraging birds.


Momotus momota has a large range in South and Central America, from Mexico south to Argentina, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 9,790,000 km2. It occurs in a range of habitat types from sea level to 3100 m, including lowland and montane humid forest and temperate woodland, semi-arid open woodland, plantations and clearings with trees; in Tobago (Trinidad and Tobago) found frequently in gardens and even sandy beaches and open pasture with large trees. Feeds on fruit, invertebrates, small reptiles and mammals, and occasionally on small birds and nestlings (Snow 2001). The global population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be large as the species is described as ‘common’ in at least parts of its range (Stotz et al. 1996). It has a high tolerance of man-altered habitats and is found in numerous protected areas throughout its extensive range. Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The blue-crowned motmot ranges from northeastern Mexico to northwestern Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia, Trinidad, and northern Argentina.
Blue-crowned Motmot status Least Concern


Sedentary throughout range.

Distribution map

Blue-crowned Motmot distribution range map

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