Behind the scenes: Rufous Potoo
The Rufous Potoo is the smallest Potoo of the Nyctibiidae Family and are in general a rare bird. Suriname finally can join the club that also inhabits this poorly known small nightbird. This is the story:
This rare bird was first spotted and photographed on October the 6, 2021 by Keiran and Simon. When we noticed that the Rufous Potoo wasn't even mentioned in the Fieldguide of Suriname, we were excited to share about this 'discovery. To confirm a new bird species you need either photo or audio proof. Well, did we take more than enough photos. Here you see an adult female resting on top of a stick, but later it was revealed that she was actually sitting on a nest. A new bird for Suriname that is also nesting!! Since there wasn't much known about the whole nesting process of the Rufous Potoo, I decided to observe her this whole time, by visiting the area once per week and using trap cams during my absence.
On October 18, 2021 I went back with Keiran right before nightfall. When darkness appeared she disappeared for several minutes. Probably taking a break. And the moment she left the stick we both saw one blotched egg resting on top of the stick. Amazing to see a Rufous Potoos egg for real. How did she manage to lay the egg perfectly into that tiny hole?
Every week I went to check on the egg if it had hatched. That meant that I had to go there by boat, walk at least 15 minutes before it got dark, wait on the spot until she would leave. Whenever we saw the egg, we left immediately, but finally on November 14, 2021 we saw one little hatchling sitting on the stick after the mother left. Camera photos revealed that it was actually born on November 10, 2021. The mother didn't give me enough time to take a great picture because after 3 or 4 minutes she sat down on top of the hatchling. Great to know is that the father is also in the neighborhood. The mother is doing all the sitting and feeding while the father is keeping an eye out. Whenever she left, she made like a light butterfly like fluttering with her wings.
On November 25, 2021 I went back to check on both of them. By this time the nestling was 15 days old. Since it was revealed that the egg had hatched I didn't had to go back during the night. Here I visited them in the afternoon. Both mother and baby were on the stick. Try to find the nestling. I know that there is something odd on her left side but if you didn't know better you would think that her plumage had grown out a bit weird.
On December 1, 2021 the nestling has grown up so fast that there wasn't room for both him and his mother. But when I checked on the trapcams I did see that the mom was still sitting with her baby during nighttime. I guess that during daytime she is resting on a nearby branch keeping watch. It would have made them both visible and vulnerable when she was there daytime. I also noticed that the nestling is only fed during nighttime. Here it was 21 days old.
On December 17, 2021, I went back to check how the nestling was doing. It started to get the same color just like his mother and finally a tail started to grow too. Here he was 37 days old.
On December 24, 2021, I went to check on the Potoo again. 44 days old and I already started to mentally prepare myself the day he will fly out of the nest. When I arrived he was sleeping but right before 18.00 he woke up and looked straight through the lens. My heart melted when I saw this. This is the reason why I went back to check on him. Seeing this potoo grow up is a great experience.
On December 31, 2021, the last day of the year 2021 I went to check on him again. A little panic when I saw an empty nest. Where is the potoo? Was I too late? He was 51 days old that day. Luckily it was his first day out of the nest, so when I looked up, I saw him balancing on a thin vine. All grown up with a nice long tail just like his mother. Still a bit curly and insecure but a big world is waiting for him. I felt a bit sad and happy when I took this photo. Sad because this wonderful experience came to an end but happy because I witnessed something unique. A new confirmed bird for Suriname and I was able to follow the whole nesting process.
Hopefully I will be able to find him and his parents again and see where they roost.
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