Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Great Potoo confirmed for Belize

Birders will be interested to know that the Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis) has been confirmed for Belize after years and years of speculation and mistaken identity. There's been a lot of confusion with the Northern Potoo (Nyctibius jamaicensis, pictured at left), a smaller bird with an altogether different call. Potoos are nocturnal birds related to nightjars.

Ecologist Jan Meerman over in Belize's Cayo District, was able to confirm a Great Potoo near his house through both a photo size comparison and vocal recordings. The vocal recordings were subsequently verified via specialists connected with the Cornell Laboratory of Sound. Jan's record has been archived at the BERDS site. You can also read the interesting details verifying this record in a .pdf file accessible at the bottom of that page.

The Northern Potoo is frequently seen during Chan Chich's night drives around Gallon Jug's Ring Road. It is readily picked up due to its distinctive red eye-shine and often perches on fence posts. With confirmation of the Great Potoo in Belize, we'll definitely be looking more closely at our Ring Road potoos. Who knows, there might be a Great among them!

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