Turquoise-browed motmot

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Turquoise-browed motmot
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Sub-phylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Aves
Sub-class Neornithes
Order Information
Order Coraciiformes
Family Information
Family Momotidae
Genus Information
Genus Eumomota
Species Information
Species E. superciliosa
Population statistics
Population 500,000+ (2008)
Conservation status Least concern[1]

Turquoise-browed motmot (Eumomota superciliosa) is a coraciiform bird of the family Momotidae native to Central America, and as the "Guardabarranco", it is the unofficial national bird of Nicaragua.[2]


Turquoise-browed motmot are about 13.3 inches in length, including the long, racqueted tail. The wings are short and rounded, with a span of about 5 inches. Above they are green with a rufous across the back; when ate rest the folded wings are banded in green, turqoise, and dark blue. The underparts are olive-green with a rufous belly. A black mask covers the eyes, in which the top edge of the mask is turquoise-blue, hence the name. The bill is rather large and has a slight downward curve with serrated edges.

Turquoise-browed motmots still-hunt, i.e. they sit on a perch for a period of time until a prey animal comes into sight, then they swoop down to make a rapid snatch. Prey consists of insects and other invertebrates, small reptiles and rodents. Fruits are also part of the diet.


  • Eumomota superciliosa apiaster; El Salvador to western Honduras and northwest Nicaragua.
  • Eumomota superciliosa australis; Costa Rica (Pacific slope).
  • Eumomota superciliosa bipartita; Southern Mexico to Guatemala (Pacific slope).
  • Eumomota superciliosa euroaustris; Honduras (Caribbean slope)
  • Eumomota superciliosa superciliosa; Mexico (Tabasco, Campeche, northern Yucatán, Cozumel Island)
  • Eumomota superciliosa sylvestris; Guatemala (Caribbean lowlands)
  • Eumomota superciliosa vanrossemi; Guatemala (Río Negro and Motagua valleys)

Range and habitat

Turquoise-browed motmots are found in southern Mexico, south to Costa Rica. It inhabits dry arid to semi-arid woodlands, scrub forest, and open pasture lands. They also inhabit tropical forested areas, but in those portions which have been largely cleared or in secondary growth.


Both male and female are monogamous, and some pairs will remain with each other for several years. They nest in difficult-to-find holes dug into river banks or the forest floor in March, with the entrance pipe some distance as well as curved before it ends at the nest, with both birds excavating until the tunnel and chamber is up to five feet long. Four, and sometimes five, white eggs are laid from April to May, with an incubation period of 17 days. At 28 days the young birds fledge. Turquoise-browed motmots have also been observed laying a second clutch of eggs after the first brood has left the nest.