Potoos range anywhere from 21 to 58 centimetres (8.3 to 22.8 inches) long and can weigh between 46 to 652 grams (0.1 to 1.4 pounds) depending on the species.
They’re insectivores. That means they primarily eat bugs!
Their huge mouths can open from ear to ear, allowing the bird to swoop down quickly and swallow bugs, moths, and even small birds, whole!
However, unlike hawks and owls, they rarely attack their prey on the ground, preferring instead to capture their food in the air.
But that can be difficult for a nocturnal animal—or an animal that stays up all night and sleeps all day.
That’s where their giant eyes come in!
Potoo birds can see very well at night, which helps them avoid other nocturnal predators and scope out tasty bugs and other morsels to eat—even in the pitch black of the remote rainforest.
They live a mostly solitary life, hunting in the same area and returning to the same perch for extended periods.
When they form families, they are very loyal, staying together to raise their young.
Unlike traditional nesting birds, potoos only lay one egg at a time.
And they don’t put it in a nest made of grass or sticks.
Instead, they rest their egg in the tip of hollow stumps or on branches with conveniently shaped dips.
This lets them continue their branch impersonation while keeping the egg warm and safe until it hatches.
Once hatched, the young potoo will quickly learn to mimic its parents, pretending to be a tree branch to stay hidden as it grows.
Fossils indicate that potoos were once widespread throughout the world.
These days, however, you’ll only find wild potoos in Central and South America—predominantly throughout the Amazon River Basin.
They’re also notoriously shy and hard to catch, so you’re not likely to find them in pet stores or at your local zoo.
So unless you’re prepared to brave the rainforest, your best bet of seeing one of these unique birds is in nature documentaries or online.