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Version 1.0

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Andean Motmot Momotus aequatorialis

Thomas S. Schulenberg
Version: 1.0 — Published April 15, 2011


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Distinguishing Characteristics

The Andean Motmot is a typical motmot in general aspect: a large bird with a stout, black bill, and a long tail with a "racquet" tip. The body plumage over generally is green, with the distal portion of the upper surface of the tail blue. The center of the crown and a broad line ("mask") through the eye are black; there also is a broad blue line bordering the crown, which is light blue on the fore part of the head but that becomes dark blue across the rear of the crown. There also is a short black streak on the center of the breast.

Similar Species

The Andean Motmot is the only species of motmot found in humid montane forests of the Andes, and so usually it is separated by elevation and habitat from other species of motmots. Otherwise it is closely similar to the Amazonian Motmot (Momotus momota), but the Andean Motmot is larger; has purer green underparts, with very little or no tawny tones; has a blue vertical stripe or bar across the rear portion of the black "mask;" and the upper surface of the racquets usually are solid blue, with no green tones and with no black or dusky tip.

Detailed Description

The following description is based on Stiles (2009):

Adult: Center of crown black. Broad blue circle ("diadem") around the sides of the head, just below the crown; on the forecrown this band is broad, usually extending to the base of the bill. The anterior portion of the diadem is bright turquoise blue, but there is a narrow band of darker, violet blue along the margin of the diadem across the nape. Behind the eye and across the nape, the diadem is margined with a black border. Broad black stripe or "mask" across the face, beginning on the lores, extending back around the eyes, and terminating in elongated auricular feathers. The rear edge of the "mask" is bordered above with blue to turquoise, often drooping over the tip of the "mask" and appearing to form a blue line that interrupts the black of the mask; there is blue below the mask, where it usually is confined to the portion of the mask below the eyes. Back and wings generally green. Throat green, often washed with blue. Breast green, sometimes pure green, but may be washed with ochraceous-olive. Belly clear green. Feathers in center of breast black, with narrow (often inconspicuous) turquoise blue margins. Upper surface of tail green at base, shading distally to dark blue. Central pair of rectrices elongated, extending beyond rest of tail as narrow shaft and terminal racquet tips. Racquets are dark blue, with little or no dusky at tip.


Bare Parts

Iris: red, dark burgundy

Bill: black

Tarsi and toes: black

Data from specimens in the Field Museum of Natural History and the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science


Total length: 46-48 cm (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b)

Linear measurements (mm) of Momotus aequatorialis aequatorialis (Stiles 2009)
   wing length (chord) tail length   total culmen
 male mean  156.43 ± 4.58  298.40 ± 13.50   48.91 ± 1.91
   range, n 146.5-167.5 (43)  272.0-234.5 (39)   45.3-51.7 (42)
 female  mean  155.27 ± 5.73  288.88 ± 14.97   47.93 ± 2.19
   range, n   144.9-168.0 (34)  264.5-323.9 (30)   44.3-51.8 (32)

Mass: mean 163.5 ± 14.5 g (range 143-202 g, n=23; Stiles 2009)

Recommended Citation

Schulenberg, T. S. (2011). Andean Motmot (Momotus aequatorialis), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.higmot1.01