Episode 100 – Potoo: A Funny Feathered Extravaganza

“…and today we are talking about an animal for the 100th time and we’re announcing the winner of the listener’s favorite part of the show vote!”

The official listener’s favorite part of the show is…. Measure Up! That’s right! You came out to the polls and let your voices be heard. With Twitter and Facebook polls combined, 65 percent voted for Measure Up as their favorite segment. I want to thank everyone who voted especially those came out to vote and ended up liking the FB page! But since it was such a close race, it’s clear that Critter Groups has it’s cult following, so it’s not going anywhere. 


  • Potoos are considered passerine birds, which means they are related to birds of the order passeriformes. 
  • But they are unique enough to warrant their own taxonomy.


  • Potoos are speckled with brown, white, black, and tan plumage.
  • In some cases, their coloration makes them resemble owls.
  • They also have large mouths, which is why they have a cousin species called the frogmouth.
  • They have deceptively small curved beak like an owl that opens up into a huge gaping maw.
  • They have proportionally large heads for their body size. However, like some owls, they can smooth their feathers to dramatically change their perceived body shape and size.
  • Potoos are native to Central and South America, with a range from Mexico to Argentina.
  • They have also been spotted on some Caribean islands like Jamaica. 

Measure Up

Welcome to the beloved Measure Up segment. The official listener’s favorite part of the show! The part of the show when we present the animal’s size and dimension in relatable terms through a quiz that’s fun for the whole family. It’s also the part of the show that’s introduced by you when you send in audio of yourself saying, singing, or chittering the words measure up into ldtaxonomy at gmail dot com. We DO have a new intro this week and in keeping with the theme, why don’t we have Carlos guess who this is.


  • The potoo (Poe-too) is between 33–38 cm long. 
  • 35.5 cm (or 13.9 inches) on average
  • Question: How many potoos into the width of La Casa Minima, the narrowest house in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires.
  • Hint: The house sits at the center of a large building that was once all one home. Parts of the home were sectioned off to be sold or rented. As a result of bad math and planning, the owners were left with a small sliver in the center of the building, which they decided to make a stand alone home.
  • Answer: 7 potoos.  La Casa Minima is 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) across.


  • The potoo (poe-toe) 160-190 g
  • 175 g (6.1 oz)
  • Question: How many potoos (poe-too) go into the weight of the Gancedo (gan-sae-doe) meteorite, the largest known fragment of the Campo del Cielo meteor shower in Charata, Argentina.
  • Hint: Gancedo is the largest meteor ever found in Argentina and the third largest meteor ever found on earth.
  • Answer: 176,000 Potoos. The Gancedo meteor is 30,800 kilograms (or 34 tons).

Fact Facts

  • Potoo are nocturnal, spending most of the day perched in a single spot or guarding a nest.
  • They feed on insects at night and prefer to go after flying insects.
  • Their hunting style is to sit on a perch and wait for an opportunity to fly out and catch something. 
  • Then they typically return to their perch to wait for the next chance.
  • Their favorite food is beetles but they may also eat moths, grasshoppers, and termites.
  • Potoo are monogamous. Which means they breed with one mate at a time.
  • Both parents share egg-incubation duties.
  • Instead of building a nest, they place a single egg in a secure location on a tree or stump.
  • In some cases, potoo will engage in mobbing behavior, which is when a prey species uses superior numbers to swarm and confront a predator.
  • They make loud calls and sometimes attract other bird species to join the mob.