Far be it from me to apply “lookism” to animals, but I must say that the potoo is not exactly your avian Robert Redford. This imgur gallery gives a selection of potoo photos, all hair-raising. Here are three:
Potoos (genus Nictibius) are a family of nocturnal insectivorous birds (seven species) that live in Central and South America. They’re famous for their camouflage; I saw one perched atop a tree in 1973 in Costa Rica, but only when it was pointed out to me. Wikpedia notes:
The large head is dominated by a massive broad bill and enormous eyes. In the treatment of the family in the Handbook of the Birds of the World, Cohn-Haft describes the potoos as little more than a flying mouth and eyes. The bill, while large and broad, is also short, barely projecting past the face. It is delicate, but has a unique “tooth” on the cutting edge of the upper mandible that may assist in foraging. Unlike the closely related nightjars, the potoos lack rictal bristles around the mouth. The legs and feet are weak and used only for perching.
Potoos are convergent in both appearance and behavior to the tawny frogmouthsof Australia, a bird I’ve posted about before. Unlike nightjars and potoos, the frogmouths are not closely related to the others, and their resemblance must have evolved independently.
This video of a potoo mom is one of the best bird videos I’ve posted. Be sure to watch the whole five minutes so you can hear the incredibly melancholy call of the male.
What the potoo lacks in beauty it makes up for in tenacity. What a remarkable creature!
Also, check out the BuzFeed site “The potoo bird always looks like it just saw something absolutely horrifying”
h/t: Matthew Cobb