Meet the Potoo: This Cartoon-Like Bird Actually Exists

Meet the Potoo: This Cartoon-Like Bird Actually Exists

Meet the potoo, a weird and wonderful wide-eyed bird found in the lowland forests of Central and South America. These guys are nocturnal, solitary, vocal, and look like they came straight out of a cartoon.

There are seven different species of potoo, and they’re all quite the characters.

Don’t let the tiny beak fool you, though; Despite its size, their mouths are actually quite cavernous, which is an adaptation for scooping up prey. Their diet includes tasty treats like moths, beetles, and even small birds.

In addition to their distinctive appearance, potoos are also known for their fascinating — and sometimes horrifying — calls. The vocal birds are said to have a hauntingly beautiful “melancholy” sound, described by some as a “moaning growl.”

You may have trouble spotting the quiet ones, though; their plumage camouflages perfectly into tree bark, so they’re easy to miss. During the day, they’ll freeze in position with their eyes closed and their beaks pointing upwards. Most predators likely mistake them for a branch.

Thankfully, potoo populations are healthy at the moment, so we can continue to marvel at them for the time being.

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