Coraciiformes TAG

Coraciiformes Taxon Advisory Group -

Broad-billed Motmot (Electron platyrhynchum)
SSP Manager: Not a TAG Recommended Species

General Information

Broad-billed motmots are solitary in nature but appear to maintain pair bonds throughout the years.  Like most motmots they are fairly inactive throughout much of the day and often are not noticed.  The tail wags in a pendulum action similar to the behavior of other motmots.  They are inactive at night, while the majority of their activity is recorded around dawn and dusk.


A small motmot measuring approximately 12-15 inches from beak to tail-tip and weighing between 55 and 65 grams.  The bill is black and much wider than typical of motmots.  The head, neck, and chest are rufous highlighted by a prominent black mask.  The upper chest and lower abdomen is blue-green while the back is green.  A black spot is found in the center of the chest.


The broad-billed motmot is not threatened in any part of its range and is listed as a species of Least Concern (IUCN 3.1).


The broad-billed motmot is found from Honduras to the northern edge of Bolivia and Mato Grosso, also extending eastward into Paraguay.  The range overlaps that of several other species of motmots.


Tropical evergreen forests and secondary vegetation ranging up to approximately 3,000 feet in elevation.



Nest tunnel systems are between 3 and 7 feet in length and frequently change direction underground.  The opening into the nest tunnel is typically conspicuously located in a vertical earthen bank, riverbank, or on a steep slope along the roads or railways.  Incubation duties are only switched twice per day to lessen activity around the mouth of the tunnel system.  The eggs are incubated for a period of ___ days before the altricial chicks hatch.  The young remain in the nest tunnel for ___ days, being fed initially squashed arthropods.  As the chicks grow and develop the food items become larger until the chicks are close to fledging and have begun eating diet items similar to the adults. 


Diet consists almost entirely of adult and larval insects including butterflies, dragonflies, ants, spiders, centipedes, scorpions, and bees.  The prey species also can include small lizards and frogs.  In addition, a small amount of fruit may be consumed.  Most of the prey is captured on the wing during sullying or from gleaning specimens off of the ground.  The broad-billed motmot has been observed to follow swarms of army ants to opportunistically capture and consume prey items displaced by the ants.