Family Motmots (Momotidae)

Least Concern

Whooping Motmot (Momotus subrufescens)


French: Motmot caraïbe German: Rötelbauchmotmot Spanish: Momoto rojizo
Other common names: Tawny-bellied Motmot

Momotus subrufescens

P. L. Sclater

, 1853,



Until recently was considered conspecific with M. momota (and M. coeruliceps, M. lessonii, M. bahamensis and M. aequatorialis), but differs from M. coeruliceps and M. aequatorialis in characters given under those species, and from the other species in its distinctive single-note call (3), clay-coloured admixture in blue of medial anterior diadem along with silvery-turquoise (vs purer sky-blue) (2), anterior portion of diadem broader than posterior portion (situation reversed or equal value in lessonii and momota) (1), breast greener than abdomen (2), and smaller size (at least 1)#R. Populations of E Panama and NW Colombia, described as race reconditus, now included in conexus; both of aforementioned taxa, and also olivaresi, sometimes synonymized with nominate#R. Six subspecies currently recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. s. conexus Thayer & Bangs, 1906 – C Panama to NW Colombia.
  • M. s. subrufescens P. L. Sclater, 1853 – Caribbean coast of N Colombia (S to Magdalena Valley) E to N Venezuela (Aragua).
  • M. s. spatha Wetmore, 1946 – Guajira Peninsula (Serranía de Macuira), in N Colombia.
  • M. s. osgoodi Cory, 1913 – NW Venezuela (C Zulia to NW Táchira and W Mérida) and adjacent Colombia (to Norte de Santander).
  • M. s. olivaresi Hernández & Romero, 1978 – NC Colombia (Santander, Boyacá).
  • M. s. argenticinctus Sharpe, 1892 – W Ecuador and NW Peru W of Andes.
  • Descriptive notes

    36–42 cm. Mid-sized to large motmot with blue on crown, tail long and racquet-tipped; bill slightly decurved, both mandibles with coarse serrations along most of length of... read more


    Typically single-noted, whereas M. lessonii and M. momota are double-noted. Song... read more


    Humid forest, seasonal forest, gallery forest (including in savannas), semi-arid open woodland,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Unlikely to differ much from other members of the M. momota species complex (e.g. M. momota and M. lessonii),... read more


    No detailed information, but general ecology presumably similar to better-studied M. lessonii and M. momota. Season... read more


    None recorded.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. The species is apparently relatively secure given its overall comparatively large range, estimated by BirdLife International at 342,000 km². Although... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Whooping Motmot (Momotus subrufescens). 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 25 February 2020).