A few days ago, Timothy Boucher, a senior conservation geographer at The Nature Conservancy, shared his choice for his personal “Bird of the Year,” the Rufous Potoo, which he saw in Ecuador and was apparently the 5,000th bird to be checked off on his life list. Potoos, related to the frogmouths of southeast Asia and nightjars elsewhere around the world, are members of a highly cryptic, or camouflaged, family that primarily hunts at crepuscular hours and/or throughout the night.
In his blog post, Boucher describes his trip to Ecuador’s Amazon region, which yielded many exotic bird species, as well as the challenges of travel in the tropics. His excitement at hearing–and the next morning, seeing–the Rufous Potoo is understandable, as any bird in that family, Nyctibiidae, is normally quite tough to find, and, once found, are very pretty in a muted, leafy-pattern sort of way. About a year ago, my friend and research teammate John wrote about the Northern Potoos that we saw in Jamaica.
John, Justin, and I had never seen a potoo before that experience, and were all extremely pleased to finally get to hear, see, and photograph the birds.