Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wondrous Feathers

Reader, falconer, and birder Stacia Novy, in the military in Honduras, sent a photo of herself with the central tail feathers of a motmot that she picked up. She wrote:

"I found this pair of molted, central tail (deck) feathers from a Turquoise-browed Motmot the other day while hiking along a stream bed on base. What a find! The male motmot performs a pendulum-like display, swinging the racket-shaped tail feathers from side to side, and calling a low, resonant 'woop-woop-woop' in perfect time to the swings. In spanish, the bird is known as 'pajaro reloj' which literally means 'clock bird' because of this display. "

They are unusual not just in shape or color but because the bird helps create the structure, stripping the barbs off the middle part of the feather to create the "racquets" at the end.


More on the motmot can be found here (HT John at Prairie Ice.

3 comments:

dr.hypercube said...

I don't remember how I found it (I'm going to be hugely embarassed if it was a link from here), but here's some video of another raquet-tailed critter: the marvelous spatuletail. The hummingbird doesn't strip barbules AFAIK, but they do live up to their name...

dr.hypercube said...

Forgot to ask - is Stacia able to practice falconry? Central America could be a pretty interesting environment for hawking.

Steve Bodio said...

She is interested but hasn't had time yet. I'd love to try it myself!