Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]

Alternative Title

El meneo de visualización del motmot de corona azul (Momotus momota) como una señal para repeler depredadores


Elise Nishikawa



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Publication Date

May 2010


The blue-crowned motmot (Momotus momota) is a large, omnivorous, Neotropical bird. Momotus momota demonstrates a variety of life history traits that could make the bird more vulnerable to ambush predators as well as adaptations to signal to, and deter attack by, ambush predators. Like other motmots, M. momota performs an exaggerated tail-wagging motion when presented with a visual predatory stimulus. I studied the different reactions elicited by four treatments to examine the importance of the signal receiver as a predator that had been visually located by the motmot. I presented either an avian model or an avian call played back to motmots and observed reactions. Motmots were significantly more likely to wag-display (p = 0.0009) upon seeing an ambush predator, more likely to not interrupt normal behavior like foraging when presented with a non-predatory control call, and subjects never approached either predator stimulus trial. These results support the previous research that suggested that motmots wag-displayed to deter predation.


El motmot de corona azul (Momotus momota) es un ave Neotropical grande y omnívora. Momotus momota demuestra varios rasgos de historia natural, que lo hacen vulnerable a emboscadas por depredadores, como también tiene adaptaciones para señalar y repeler depredadores. Como otros motmot realiza un movimiento de su cola exagerado, cuando está expuesto al estímulo de depredadores visuales. Yo estudie las diferentes reacciones a 4 tratamientos para examinar la importancia del estímulo cuando el motmot ha localizado visualmente al depredador. Yo presentaba un ave modelo o una vocalización a los motmots y observe sus reacciones. Los motmots movían más la cola cuando venía un depredador (p=0.0009), también era menos probable que interrumpieran su comportamiento normal cuando fueron presentados con estímulos de no depredadores. Estos resultados apoyan los estudios previos que sugieren que los motmots mueven su cola para repeler depredadores.


Birds--Behavior, Animals--Adaptation, Predation (Biology), CIEE Spring 2010

Palabras claves

Aves--Comportamiento, Animales--Adaptación, Depredación (Biología), CIEE Primavera 2010


9 pages

Geographic Location

Monteverde (Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

Holding Location

Monteverde Institute


English; Spanish

Media Type



Digital Only





The wag-display of the blue-crowned motmot (Momotus momota) as a predator-deterrent signal



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