Urutau Bird (Potoo): Discover what you need to know about this CRAZY bird!

Behold the elusive Urutau bird, nature’s master of hide-and-seek!

In this playful article, we’ll unravel the mysteries of this feathered phantom, from its peculiar appearance to its ghostly nocturnal habits.

Keep reading to uncover why this cryptic creature has us all enthralled and itching for a game of avian I-spy!

Urutau Bird

Urutau, or Potoo bird, is one of the most unique and amazing animals in the world.

Learn why the Urutau bird is so strange, its diverse structure, and why it can be haunting in this narrative.

Urutau bird

The Urutau or potoo bird (Nyctibius grandis) is the only species in the genus Nyctibius, where it is found in Central and South America.

A distinctive bird of these regions, Urutaus are related to other birds with similar habits, such as nightjars and frogmouths. They belong to an ancient group called owlet-nightjars which appeared about 30 million years ago.

This bizarre creature has a solid black body, long tail, and legs that look powerful enough for a run across treetops or branches. Its eyes on the other hand are small and beady; not good for sight per se but they are ideal at catching even tiny light sources.

Can Urutau Bird See?

Yes, its eyes do work even in dark conditions. As mentioned above, Urutaus are nocturnal birds so this trait is advantageous for them to hunt at night. Thanks to their tubular-shaped mouth they can consume a large range of insects which keeps them well fed throughout the night.

Where to Look for The Potoos?

Urutau birds live in forests near bodies of water and usually eat smaller insects such as moths, beetles, and flies along with spiders, snails, and frogs. In urban areas, Urutaus will often nest on buildings or bridges during the breeding season although occasionally it may be found roosting in hollows of trees or within rock crevices. Its Latin name is Nyctibius grandis Urutau, meaning “nightjar large Urutau.”

Urutau Bird Behaviour

Urutaus are diurnal birds and therefore are most active during the day. They spend the entire night flying from tree to tree in search of food when there’s no light available yet. When they sense a source of light, however, Urutaus will drop slowly down to the ground or onto branches where it waits for prey such as insects and worms running around on the surface.

Urutaus have their fair share of predators who include owls, eagles, and some small mammals but this doesn’t stop Urutaus from breeding throughout the year! Fertilization is internal so Urutaus give birth to live young, so the Urutau species is very successful. Urutau nests are built on branches and are usually made of sticks, twigs, vines, and leaves.

Diversity of Urutau Species?

Urutau birds are found in most of South America as well as parts of Central America. Urutau populations can also be found along the Atlantic Forest coasts of Argentina where they nest on willow trees by rivers or near wooded lakeside; Urutaus like habitats that aren’t too far from water sources because they need them for drinking purposes.

Dietary Habits of Urutau Bird

Urutaus eat predominantly insects including larvae, snails, spiders, and small frogs or mice which Urutau frequently finds on the ground below. Urutau also feeds on small rodents (insect-eating) in urban areas and occasionally catches lizards, if ever they are available.

Urutau birds can fly high above the water to locate food so don’t be surprised if you come across Urutaus going for a fish! Urutau spots its prey by using reflection of light from the water’s surface

Potoo Behavior and Ecology

Potoos are nocturnal birds found in Central and South America, known for their unique and cryptic behavior and ecology. Here are some key points about their behavior and ecology:

Nocturnal: Potoos are active at night, and during the day they typically roost on branches or perches, where their cryptic plumage helps them blend into their surroundings.

Camouflage: Potoos have excellent camouflage, which allows them to avoid predators and also makes them difficult for researchers to study. They have a distinctive posture where they stretch their neck and point their beak upwards, resembling a broken branch or tree stump.

Insectivorous: Potoos feed mainly on insects, which they catch in flight. They have a wide gape that allows them to capture large prey such as moths and beetles.

Territory: Potoos are generally solitary birds and defend their territories against other potoos. They use vocalizations to communicate with each other, and their calls are often heard at night in the forest.

Nesting: Potoos lay their eggs on a bare branch or log, rather than building a nest. The eggs are camouflaged and blend in with the surroundings. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the young.

Threats: Potoos are threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation and logging, as well as hunting for their meat and feathers. Conservation efforts are focused on protecting their habitat and reducing hunting and poaching.

Overall, potoos are fascinating birds with unique behavior and adaptations that allow them to thrive in their nocturnal forest habitats.

Urutaus have few predators which include owls, hawks, and snakes; however, Urutaus are nocturnal birds so these animals mainly hunt them at night. their main predator is humans who want to pick up Urutau eggs or capture Urutau as pets, since Urutau is a nocturnal bird Urutaus are readily available to be captured.

Urutaus have been known to fly at high altitudes above lakes and ponds in search of food during the night, therefore they are sometimes preyed upon by eagles and other large birds of prey. Urutau parents will often sit on their young until they outgrow its nest and then Urutau moves off in search of its territory within the forest lands.

Urutau predators Urutau reproduction: Urutau do not build nests; instead Urutau will lay single eggs which both Urusta and Uramaus help incubate using body heat very similar to penguins! Usually, Uramaus only lay one Urutau egg in Urutau.

Urusta: The Baby of Urutau Bird

The Urusta is a baby Urutau; it is born with its eyes closed and has light grey downy feathers covering its body. Only when the young begin to open their eyes will they grow adult feathers which are brown and dark black-grey, indicating that they are fully mature. The male uses a simple call made up of two or three deep-toned notes to get the female’s attention during the breeding season.


So, we hope that your hunger to know about this amazing and very distinct creature has had some of its fill – the pursuit of knowledge should not end here, however! Being one of the most diverse species of birds, Urutau birds are well-known and considered among heritage animals.

But before we will wind up this detailed narrative on Potoos, we would like to give some more closing information on Urutau bird which can be very helpful for you to further your thirst to know more about this exquisite birdy.

Now here’s a fun fact: Potoos are also known as poor-me-ones. This harrowingly sad adjective is given to them for their way of communication, which sounds more like a haunting call. Flying solitary in the jungle or resting on a tree in the chill of the night, a call from Urutau may well send extreme chills down your spine – if you happen to camp at night in a desolate jungle. So, you hear an eerie and haunting bird call at night, feel privileged to know that a Potoos is nearby.

Plus, since this bird species is only found in Central and South America – not even on the entire continent – Potoos may serve your curiosity well enough. The most diverse range of these unique birds is found in the Amazon Basin – that’s another reason for us to protect the rapidly deforesting jungles of the Amazon Basin. So, next time when you go to feel and spend some time with the amazing nocturnal birds, make sure you take some steps to ensure the preservation of their habitat and appreciate their uniqueness among numerous other creatures of our planet.

Julian Goldie - Owner of ChiperBirds.com

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.