Potoo is one of the rearrest birds in the world, they are found in South America and are usually only seen at night when they hunt food.
The Potoos are today an exclusively New World family, but they apparently had a much more widespread distribution in the past. Fossil remains of Potoos dating from the Eocene have been found in Germany. A complete skeleton of the genus Paraprefica has been found in Messel, Germany. It had a skull and leg features similar to those of modern Potoos, suggesting that it may be an early close relative of the modern Potoos. Because the only fossils other than these ancient ones that have been found are recent ones of extinct species, it is unknown if the family once had a global distribution which has contracted, or if the distribution of the family was originally restricted to the Old World and has shifted to the New World.
The potoos are a highly conservative family in appearance, with all the species closely resembling one another; species accounts in ornithological literature remark on their unusual appearance. Potoos range from 21–58 cm (8.3–22.8 in) in length. They resemble upright sitting nightjars, a closely related family (Caprimulgidae). They also resemble the frogmouths of Australasia, which are stockier and have much heavier bills. They have proportionally large heads for their body size and long wings and tails. The large head is dominated by a massive broad bill and enormous eyes. The eyes are large, even larger than those of nightjars. As in many species of nocturnal birds, they reflect the light of flashlights.] Their eyes, which could be conspicuous to potential predators during the day, have unusual slits in the lids, which allow potoos to sense movement even when their eyes are closed. Their plumage is cryptic, helping them blend into the branches on which they spend their days.
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Food and feeding
Potoos feed at dusk and at night on flying insects. Their typical foraging technique is to perch on a branch and occasionally fly out in the manner of a flycatcher in order to snatch a passing insect. They occasionally fly to vegetation to glean an insect off it before returning to their perch, but they do not attempt to obtain prey from the ground. Beetles form a large part of their diet, but they also take moths, grasshoppers and termites. One northern potoo was found with a small bird in its stomach as well. Having caught an insect, potoos swallow it whole without beating or crushing it.
Potoos are monogamous breeders and both parents share responsibilities for incubating the egg and raising the chick. The family does not construct a nest of any kind, instead laying the single egg on a depression in a branch or at the top of a rotten stump. The egg is white with purple-brown spots. One parent, often the male, incubates the egg during the day, then the duties are shared during the night. Changeovers to relieve incubating parents and feed chicks are infrequent to minimise attention to the nest, as potoos are entirely reliant on camouflage to protect themselves and their nesting site from predators. The chick hatches about one month after laying and the nestling phase is two months, a considerable length of time for a landbird. The plumage of nestling potoos is white and once they are too large to hide under their parents they adopt the same freeze position as their parents, resembling clumps of fungus.
The behaviors described above suggest that the common potoo adopts different defensive strategies to suit its circumstances. For a lone potoo, or a brooding adult with a potential predator close to the nest, the bird attempts to avoid detection by remaining motionless and relying on camouflage. If ineffective, the potoo breaks cover and attempts to intimidate the predator by opening its beak and eyes wide open while vocalizing or simply flies out of reach. Nocturnal predators rely less on vision for locating prey therefore a different strategy may be required at night.