Unsorted Wild Birds

Common Potoo, Grey Potoo, Lesser Potoo or Poor-me-one

The Common Potoo (Nyctibius griseus) – also known as Grey Potoos, Lesser Potoos, or Poor-me-ones – are nocturnal birds of prey that occur naturally in the tropical areas of Central and South America.

Distribution / Range

Their range stretches from Nicaragua south to northern Argentina and northern Uruguay.

They rarely occur below an elevation of 1,900 meters, and appear to avoid the driest regions in that range.

These birds are related to the nightjars and frogmouths but lack the bristles around the mouth found in the true nightjars.


The Common Potoo measures about 33–38 cm in length.

Their plumage ranges in color from pale greyish to brown and is finely patterned with black and buff. The color and patterns of their plumage are similar to that of a wood stump, providing these birds with perfect camouflage in their woodsy environment.

Their large, orange eyes provide the stronger vision needed for night-hunting birds. These birds are most commonly spotted as the light reflects from their eyes as they perch on posts.

Diet / Feeding

They mostly hunt insects, including beetles, moths, termites, crickets, grasshoppers, and fireflies. They pursue and capture them in flight, or may take prey off of plants or trees.

Nesting / Breeding

They lay their eggs directly in depressions in tree limbs, typically several meters above the ground. The average clutch consists of 1 – 2 white, lilac-spotted eggs.

Songs / Vocalizations

Their songs are described as haunting melancholic BO-OU, BO-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou, bo-ou.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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