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Potoos – the family of birds that mastered camouflage in the Amazon


December 7, 2017

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One of the best ways to eat and avoid being eaten is by avoid being seen. Evolution has shaped many species in weird ways, for these species to blend in in their environment. Many predators use this technique to not be seen by their preys -Jaguars are a classic example in the Amazon, as are most snakes-, but the reality is that most camouflaged species have evolved this way in order not to be eaten. Take for example the family species that are the center of attention of this blog post: the potoos.

Manu National Park is home to at least 4 species of Potoos: Long-tailed, Andean, Common, and Great. All these species are strictly nocturnal. They wait for the sun to set, and then venture out into the darkness to hunt for moths and other insects with their absurdly big mouths. However, during the day, they do nothing more than sitting around, and they do so in an extremely proficient way. Evolution has shaped Potoos to be the shape, texture, and color pattern of the broken branch.

Extra points if you can spot the Great Potoo – Photo: Alfredo Fernandez

Extra points if you can spot the Great Potoo – Photo: Alfredo Fernandez

These species are relatively abundant, as they are commonly heard in the forest at dawn and dusk, but spotting one can be one of the most challenging tasks a birdwatcher can try. However, if you visit Tambo Blanquillo Lodge, you will be very pleased to know that our guides have several territories of these species located, as well as their perching spots. And what are the chances for a Great Potoo to be living and nesting inside the same Kapok tree we have our Canopy Tower in? Our Canopy Tower is one of the very places on Earth that allow birdwatchers to take close looks, and photographers to take portraits of these birds in the wild.

Great Potoo – Portrait by Alfredo Fernandez

Great Potoo – Portrait by Alfredo Fernandez

Andean Potoos are also seen in our ‘Manu Complete’ Tour, as we travel through the Kosnipata Valley, and Common Potoos can be seen at night in our Lodge as they hunt for moths near the Bungalows.

If you wish to know more about this or other species, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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