Posts Tagged ‘Oilbird’

ONE MORE REASON TO VISIT ECUADOR: OILBIRDS

January 24, 2013

oilbird by lelis (1280x925)The Oilbird is a sparsely present and unique bird in South America. It is one bird you can see on PIB’s Ecuador trips that tour the Quito area. I saw this fascinating bird in a deep chasm on a private farm that welcomed the PIB tour group. The birds are nocturnal so they were up on the shaded ledges sleeping during the day.
The Oilbird is the only bird in the world that can use echolocation to navigate. It lets them come and go in lightless caves where they roost and nest.
Though closely related to the Nightjar family, the Oilbird has given up esating insects in favor of fruit. Though it evolved first in North America during a hot period in the climate, the Oilbird now has been pushed into the tropical areas of Latin America from Trinidad to Bolivia and east to Guyana.
If you look at the range map for Oilbird in Nigel Cleere’s NIGHTJARS OF THE WORLD you will notice a series of less than fifty dots scattered about northwestern South America. There are few places with adequate caves and a year-round supply of fruit.
Like many fruit-eating birds from waxwings to tanagers to parrots, the Oilbird is gregarious. It roosts, nests and feeds in groups.
So different is the Oilbird from even its closest related species it is not only in its own genus, but in its own taxonomic family, Steatornithidae.
If you want to add this amazing and unqiue bird to your lifelist, check out our Ecuador tours.
References: A NEOTROPICAL COMPANION by John Kricher. Princeton University Press.
NIGHTJARS OF THE WORLD by Nigel Cleere. Princeton University Press.
OILBIRD PHOTO COURTESY OF LELIS NAVARRETE, LEAD GUIDE FOR MANY PIB TOURS IN ECUADOR.