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Last updated on April 25, 2014 at 5:25 EDT

Lesser Potoo

The Lesser Potoo (Nyctibius griseus) also known as the Gray Potoo or Common Potoo, is a species of nocturnal bird which breeds in tropical Central and South America from Costa Rica to northern Argentina and northern Uruguay. Its habitat is open woodlands and savannah. It avoids cooler mountain regions, rarely occurring higher than 6200 feet in elevation. It also avoids arid regions. It is a widespread inhabitant and is not considered threatened by the IUCN.

The Potoo is related to Nightjars and Frogmouths, but like other Potoos, the Lesser Potoo lacks the bristles around the mouth found in true nightjars. The adult is 13 to 15 inches long and is pale gray to brown and finely patterned with black and beige which camouflages it to look much like a log. This is a safety measure to help protect it from predators. The way it perches also helps camouflage it. Its eyes are large and orange in color. It has a lingering melancholic BO-OU, BO-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou song that is heard at night.

The Lesser Potoo hunts at night and feeds on insects from a perch. During the day it perches upright on a tree stump and is completely invisible, as it remains absolutely still. If disturbed by larger animals, it may break camouflage and try to chase off the threat. The female lays a single white, lilac-spotted egg in a depression in a tree limb several feet from the ground. There may be two eggs in a clutch, but this is not a confirmed fact.

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Lesser Potoo