Family Motmots (Momotidae)

Least Concern

Highland Motmot (Momotus aequatorialis)


French: Motmot d’Équateur German: Hochlandmotmot Spanish: Momoto serrano
Other common names: Andean Motmot

Momotus æquatorialis


, 1858,

Archidona, Ecuador


Fairly closely related to M. momota (and those species until recently considered conspecific), and sometimes treated as a well-marked highland race thereof, but notable differences in size and plumage, as well as in ecology and vocalizations, justify its separation from all other members of the group as a full species#R: larger size (effect size for wing 2.46, score 2); strong vs barely discernible pale turquoise fleck at end of ear-coverts (2); no black tips on racquets (2); different voice#R (at least 2). Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. aequatorialis Gould, 1858 – subtropical and lower temperate zones of Andes in W Colombia, and E slopes of Andes in Ecuador.
  • M. a. chlorolaemus Berlepsch & Stolzmann, 1902 – subtropical Andes from E Peru S to N Bolivia (La Paz).
  • Descriptive notes

    48 cm; 123–176 g. Large motmot with tail long and racquet-tipped; bill slightly decurved, with coarse serrations along most of length of cutting edges. Both sexes of... read more


    The M. momota complex subdivides into two song types, single hoots and double hoots, of... read more


    Occupies subtropical and lower temperate montane forest, normally at elevations of 1500–2400... read more

    Food and feeding

    Remains of beetles, other large insects, and caterpillars have been recorded on specimen labels, and debris found in nest included 100s of... read more


    Active nests discovered in E Ecuador Jan–May, Jul and Nov, i.e. mainly in wet season, and those nests in Apr–May probably had... read more


    None recorded.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Seems to be generally common in suitable habitats, but no information on numbers. Uncertainty regarding taxonomic status has hampered preparation of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Snow, D. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Highland Motmot (Momotus aequatorialis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 February 2020).