Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Oilbird

Just a quick note- I've been so wrapped up in making sure everything gets done that I totally forgot I don't have to post on Sundays!  I was two days ahead!  Look at that.  Haha so here's to keeping up with the Challenge!

O is for Oilbird (Steatornis caripensis).  Also called a guacharo, the oilbird is a nocturnal bird found in northern South America.  Oilbirds live in caves during the day, roosting on ledges.  At night they depart from the caves by the use of echolocation, just like bats.  The sounds the birds emit are within the range of human hearing and consist of a series of high-pitched clicks, up to 250 per second!

Oilbirds are unique in that they are the world's only nocturnal avian frugivore.  Frugivore meaning that their diets consists entirely of fruit.  It will hover in the air and pluck the fruit off branches.  And when I say fruit I don't mean apples and oranges.  Think instead of berries and nuts.  They store the fruit in their stomachs until the daylight, when they begin digestion.  They will digest the fleshy portion and regurgitate the stones.

The oilbird lives in groups of up to 10,000 individuals in a cave.  They travel together, eat together, and roost together.  They nest on cave ledges 30-60 feet up, and sometimes nest on the floor.   Nests are made of regurgitated plant material compacted into an approximately 16 inch nest.  2-4 white eggs are laid at a time and are incubated for around a month by both parents.

The young are fed by regurgitation until they are actually heavier than their parents.  They will leave the nest after about 110-120 days.  The parents begin to lessen their feeding and, after fledging, the young will weigh the same as their parents. 


  1. Never heard of this type of bird, but very interesting. They even look a bit like an owl.

    Had to smile when I saw the title of your blog...Hootennany


  2. Thank you. i wonder if you, personally took these photos - they give me a good idea of this lovely bird. I've never heard of it before, now I'll look for other stories about oilbirds.

    Gotta tell you it made me laugh to read the northern of southern . . sounds a little like an Alice in Wonderland sequel (which would make me really happy.)
    Happy A to Z!

    1. Hi Maggid,
      No I did not personally take those pictures, but wouldn't that be an experience! I do love wildlife photography though. If you check out any of my travel posts, those pictures are usually mine. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Very cool. I had never heard of this bird so, I learned something new from you here. Good share!
    Shawn at Reading Practice

  4. Interesting post. Love to watch the birds pecking away at our bird feeders. We actually stop eating dinner to watch, or hail the kids to the windows if we see an unusual bird. However, I doubt there are any oilbirds around here.

  5. Wow, I didn't know there was such a bird. When I think of nocturnal birds, usually I think of birds of prey. This world has so many amazing creatures.

    Enjoyed your post!

    1. Yes, I didn't even know the existed until I went to Costa Rica last month. We didn't see any but we saw one of their relatives, a Common Pauraque. Another cool bird!