Family Potoos (Nyctibiidae)

Least Concern

Long-tailed Potoo (Nyctibius aethereus)


French: Ibijau à longue queue German: Langschwanz-Tagschläfer Spanish: Nictibio colilargo

Caprimulgus æthereus


, 1820,

Rio Mucuri, Bahia, Brazil


MtDNA study revealed weak support for relationship between present species and N. grandis#R. For most of its recorded history, race longicaudatus has generally been considered a separate species (incorporating chocoensis as a race), but was recently lumped with present species, although on rather scanty evidence; on basis of distinctive morphology, separate species status may be appropriate, but voices apparently similar#R; further research required. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • N. a. chocoensis Chapman, 1921 – Chocó region of W Colombia.
  • N. a. longicaudatus (Spix, 1825) – Long-tailed Potoo – scattered localities across Amazonia, probably throughout.
  • N. a. aethereus (Wied, 1820) – Large-tailed Potoo – Atlantic Forest of SE Brazil (from Bahia S to Paraná), SE Paraguay and NE Argentina (N Misiones).
  • A specimen from near mouth of R Amazon has been attributed to nominate aethereus, but probably erroneously.

    Descriptive notes

    46–58 cm; 280–447 g. Long, strongly graduated tail (extending well beyond wingtips), with obvious barring and proportionately longer than in other species of ... read more


    Song a lethargic, plaintive and human-sounding “ra-OOH” (with second syllable higher),... read more


    Forests in lowlands, from very wet to relatively dry and gallery forest. Inhabits primary forest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Forages nocturnally like other potoos, consuming flying termites, moths and beetles. Appears clumsy and over-sized, making short, acrobatic... read more


    Nesting reported Aug–Nov in Paraguay (late dry season to early wet season), and early Jul to late Sept (i.e. middle of wet season to... read more


    Presumed to be sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Very poorly known. Nominate subspecies probably threatened in Atlantic forest, where little original forest remains, e.g. seems distinctly rare in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cohn-Haft, M. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Long-tailed Potoo (Nyctibius aethereus). 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 9 April 2020).