The potoos are a family Nyctibiidae of birds related to the nightjars and frogmouths. They are sometimes called Poor-me-ones, after their haunting calls. There are seven species in one genus, Nyctibius, in tropical Central and South America.
These are nocturnal insectivores which lack the bristles around the mouth found in the true nightjars. They hunt from a perch like a shrike or flycatcher. During the day they perch upright on tree stumps,camouflaged to look like part of the stump. The single spotted egg is laid directly on the top of a stump. The potoos are today an exclusively New World family,

DNA studies suggest that these species are themselves very old. The level of divergence is the highest of any genus of birds, being more typical of the divergence between genera or even families. This raises the possibility that there are several cryptic species to be discovered. For example the Northern Potoo was for a long time considered to be the same species as the Common Potoo, but the two species have now been separated on the basis of their calls. In spite of this there is no morphological way to separate the two species.


The potoos are highly highly nocturnal and generally do not fly during the day. They spend the day perched on branches with the eyes half closed. With their cryptic plumage they resemble stumps, and should they detect potential danger they adopt a "freeze" position which even more closely resembles a broken branch. The transition between perching and the freeze position is gradual and hardly perceptible to the observer. Wikepedia

Great Potoo, Nyctibius grandis
Long-tailed Potoo, Nyctibius aethereus
Northern Potoo, Nyctibius jamaicensis
Andean Potoo, Nyctibius maculosus
Common Potoo or Lesser Potoo, Nyctibius griseus
White-winged Potoo, Nyctibius leucopterus
Rufous Potoo, Nyctibius bracteatus