|Conservation status||Least concern|
The russet-crowned motmot is small, just over 12 inches in total length. The wings are short and rounded, while the blue tail is long; like other motmots the two center feathers are longer than the remaining tail feathers, with the dark ends bearing racketed tips. It is a blue-green above and light to pale green below, with a single long black chest spot, a black triangular face patch edged in blue, and a russet-brown cap from which the bird gets its name. The bill is rather large and has a slight downward curve with serrated edges.
Some authorities recognize three subspecies, with the fourth (M. m. castaneiceps) being proposed as a distinctive species.
- Momotus mexicanus castaneiceps; Guatemala: Zacapa Plains and Motagua Valley.
- Momotus mexicanus mexicanus; North-central and central Mexico.
- Momotus mexicanus saturatus; Southwest Mexico: Oaxaca and Chiapas.
- Momotus mexicanus vanrossemi; Northwest Mexico: south Sonora to Chihuahua and Sinaloa.
Range and habitat
Russet-crowned motmots are found in western and southern Mexico, south to Guatemala. It inhabits forested land, from dry arid to semi-arid woodlands, in addition to open, partially-wooded country with hedges, up to 6,000 feet in the mountains. These birds will sit on a perch and still-hunt, taking insects and small vertebrates such as mice or lizards. They nest in difficult-to-find holes dug into river banks or the forest floor during the wet season (April–June), with the entrance pipe some distance as well as curved before it ends at the nest. Up to four white eggs are laid, with an incubation period of 21–22 days.