Family Motmots (Momotidae)

Least Concern

Russet-crowned Motmot (Momotus mexicanus)


French: Motmot à tête rousse German: Braunscheitelmotmot Spanish: Momoto mexicano

Momotus Mexicanus


, 1827,

Temiscáltepec, Mexico


Geographical variation in main part of range rather moderate, and probably clinal, palest populations occurring in far N areas. Isolated S population castaneiceps more distinctive, and may represent a separate species, having darker crown and nape (rufous-chestnut vs rufous) (1), rather more extensive black on lores, sometimes extending above eye in short supercilium (ns[1]), whitish vs metallic royal-blue moustachial patch (2), greatly reduced blue on (and more attenuated) black rear ear-coverts (2), but apparently no mensural or vocal differences. Four subspecies currently recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. m. vanrossemi R. T. Moore, 1932 – NW Mexico in S Sonora and extreme N Sinaloa and adjacent SW Chihuahua.
  • M. m. mexicanus Swainson, 1827 – Sinaloa and W Durango S to Guerrero, S Puebla and NW Oaxaca.
  • M. m. saturatus Nelson, 1897 – S Mexico (S & E Oaxaca and Chiapas) and adjacent SW Guatemala.
  • M. m. castaneiceps Gould, 1854 – interior Guatemala, mainly in Motagua Valley.
  • Descriptive notes

    30·5–35·5 cm; 74–101 g. Rather small motmot, unusual among racquet-tailed species in having rectrix adjacent to central pair extending beyond... read more


    Gives a low, rolled "krrrp" or "krrup", or "kru, krr-up", which in... read more


    Arid to semi-arid woodland and woodland edge, and semi-open areas with trees and hedges; to 1800 m. read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly large insects, taken from ground, foliage or air; also small snakes. Fruit apparently not recorded.


    Lays in Apr–Jun (wet season). Nest in burrow excavated in earth bank, roadside cutting or riverbank, 88–170 cm (mean 135 cm)... read more


    None recorded.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Considered to be common to fairly common throughout range. Evident tolerance of, and probable adaptation to, arid and semi-arid habitats that have... read more

    Recommended citation

    Snow, D. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Russet-crowned Motmot (Momotus mexicanus). 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 11 December 2019).