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Version 1.0

This is a historic version of this account.  Current version


Long-tailed Potoo Nyctibius aethereus

Sulli Gibson
Version: 1.0 — Published November 14, 2014


Geographic Variation

There are three recognized subspecies of Long-tailed Potoo (Peters 1940, Dickinson and Remsen 2013):

aethereus, described as Caprimulgus aethereus Wied 1820; type locality Rio Macuri [Macuré], Brazil

Occurs in northeastern Argentina, southeastern Paraguay, and southeastern Brazil (Cohn-Haft 1999). Hellmayr (1912) reported a specimen, identified as nominate aethereus, from Ilha Mexiana, at the mouth of the Amazon; this is close to the site Resacca, Rio Capim, Pará) from which Snethlage reported a specimen of longicaudatus. Peters (1940: 180) noted that "if both of these identifications are correct then aethereus and longicaudatus cannot be conspecific unless they are migratory". Griscom and Greenway (1941), however, suggested that "the two records ... really deal with an intermediate population which is a connecting link between the two", and Cohn-Haft (1999) simply suggested that the record of aethereus from Mexiana was probably erroneous. It is not clear, however, that anyone ever has critically reexamined either of these two specimens.

See Detailed Description.

longicaudatus, described as Caprimulgus longicaudatus Spix 1825; type locality Rio Japurá [Amazonas], Brazil

Occurs in Amazonia; its range likely includes all of Amazonia, where it has been recorded as far west as Peru and Ecuador, as far north as Venezuela and French Guiana, as well as throughout most of Amazonian Brazil (Peters 1940, Pelletier 2005).

This subspecies is smaller than nominate aethereus and often more tawny brown, particularly on the breast (Cleere 1998).

chocoensis, described as Nyctibius longicaudatus chocoensis Chapman 1921; type locality Novitá, Rio San Juan, Chocó, Colombia

Occurs only in western Colombia. This race is similar to longicaudatus, but is smaller and its "general coloration [is] much deeper, the black markings of the upperparts [are] more extensive and more pronounced, the crown largely black, the back and scapulars with sharply defined black shaft-streaks, the brown areas of the upperparts darker, chestnut rather than ochraceous" (Chapman 1921).


Related Species

Early authors (e.g. Chapman 1921) considered longicaudatus and chocoensis to be a separate species, although more recently (Peters 1940 and subsequent sources) these subspecies have been classified as subspecies of aethereus. This "lumping" has been described as based "on rather scanty evidence" ((Cohn-Haft 1999), although the vocalizations of aethereus and longicaudatus apparently are similar (Cohn-Haft 1999). See also Geographic Variation.

Phylogenetic analysis of isozyme data and of DNA sequence data, from both mitochondrial and non-coding nuclear genes, supports the monophyly of Nyctibiidae within Caprimulgiformes (Mariaux and Braun 1996, Brumfield et al. 1997, Braun and Huddleston 2009). Nyctibius maculosus (Andean Potoo) and Nyctibius leucopterus (White-winged Potoo) are identified as sister taxa, but otherwise relationships within Nyctibius are poorly resolved.

Recommended Citation

Gibson, S. (2014). Long-tailed Potoo (Nyctibius aethereus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.lotpot1.01