Tuesday, 4 September 2012


Steatornis caripensis

Photo by Rodrigo Paez (Internet Bird Collection)

Common  name:
oilbird (en); guácharo (pt); guacharo des cavernes (fr); guácharo (es); fettshwalm (de)

Order Caprimulgiformes
Family Steatornithidae

This species found in northern South America, from Guyana to Colombia, and along the Andes down to Bolivia. They are also found in the Caribbean island of Trinidad.

These birds are 40-49 cm long and weigh 350-485 g.

Oilbirds are found in rainforests with available caves for nesting.

They are frugivorous and forage at night, navigating by echolocation like bats. They eat a wide range of fruits, mainly of Arecaceae, Burseraceae and Lauraceae, being an important seed disperser in their rainforest habitat.

Oilbirds are colonial cave nesters and appear to be monogamous. The nest is a large, truncated cone made of concentric layers of regurgitated seeds, droppings, mud and fruit pulp, all held together with the birds’ saliva. The nests are placed in cave ledges and shelves close to the cave ceiling, up to 30 m above the ground. The female lays 2-4 glossy white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 32-35 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 100-115 days after hatching.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range but the population size is yet to be quantified. This species is suspected be loosing habitat due to Amazonian deforestation and nestlings are harvested for food and oil production in several countries, but overall the oilbird is not considered threatened at present.

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