Blue-crowned motmot

Breakfast with the blue-crowned motmot by Hiral Naik

Birds in the tropics are known to be both diverse and colourful and despite being in a very remote, cold and rainy part of Peru, I was not disappointed. My research trip to Peru was in early 2017 and was to last for two months. As a passionate wildlife conservationist, seeing a huge diversity of organisms excites me in every possible way but I was going to be based in a remote part of the cloud forest in the mountains… so I wasn’t expecting very much.

When I arrived at the research station, there was a small wooden house, a large covered platform where we would be sleeping and a vast open forest with gushing sounds of the river close by. It had been raining for months as per the rainy season, but that year the rains persisted longer than usual. That made it even more difficult to spot any wildlife in the green canopy even though I could hear birds twittering and frogs croaking in the distance.

The small wooden house was the kitchen area for researchers and volunteers. Soon myself and some other volunteers found ourselves spending more time there, especially after the long days working outdoors. It was only two weeks after my arrival that I would be graced with the presence of a spectacular bird while having breakfast. One that I may have only dreamed of. It wasn’t a bird that was charismatically showcased in nature documentaries and nor are they very common, so I was very excited to find out what it was. I quickly rushed off to look at the bird book at the station and found out it was the blue-crowned motmot.

Blue-crowned motmot

I first noticed it when I sat down for breakfast one day. The rains had calmed, and it was a cool morning. Suddenly I observed something flying through the periphery of my eyes. I immediately went outside to see what it could be. Sitting on a branch right in front of me about 15 meters away was a stunning green bird with a long blueish green pendulum-like tale. It had distinctive red-black eyes and a short, broad, black beak. Iconic to its name, it had a light blue colouration on the crown of its head. However, its the distinctive tail that makes this bird special. When perched, it swings its tail from left to right, mimicking a pendulum. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me to take a photo and by the time I got it and came back, the bird was gone.

Birds are always the trickiest to photograph because they are often quite a distance away and you would need a zoom lens to get a good shot. Birds are also quick to fly away at any sign of movements that are close to them. I was going to have to wait for my photo moment with the blue-crowned motmot and it would be weeks before I got one. However, despite the limited photo opportunity, I found the motmot would visit some early mornings when we had breakfast. It would sit in the distance and swing its pendulum tail. Whenever I did see it, I would sit in awe and appreciate the colourful plumage and beauty of this bird.

A few weeks later when the rains had subsided, and it was a little bit warmer, we found ourselves encountering two blue-crowned motmots. It was a beautiful sight to see. It also increased our chances to get a good photograph. By then I had also made it a habit to keep my camera with me most of the time. I was with the other volunteers ready for breakfast and someone noticed the motmot. I took my camera and moved very slowly towards it and in spite of one or two blurry images, I got my photo. A memory that is not only etched in my brain but one that I can share with others through my photography. The blue-crowned motmot will always be my breakfast companion from the cloud forest that I will never forget!

About the Entry

  • Blogger name | Hiral Naik
  • Site name | Hiral Naik
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  • Why should someone visit your site? As a wildlife conservationist, I find it crucial to share stories about my wildlife encounters, communicate the research I work on and promote valuable information about different environmental organisations, people and places. My site serves to communicate the importance of our natural world.
  • Entry Number | 27

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