Paradise jacamar

These agile hunters can catch butterflies and dragonflies mid-flight

Charles J. Sharp

A stunning representative of the Jacamar family, exhibiting an impressive array of iridescent colors that shimmer in the sunlight. These birds are native to the Neotropical region, which spans from Mexico to northern Argentina and are particularly noted for their strikingly elongated bills and tails, reminiscent of the bee-eaters found in other parts of the world, though they are not closely related.

Their plumage is typically a glossy dark green or blue, with some species displaying patches of vibrant colors such as rufous or white. The males and females are similar in appearance, though the females may be slightly less iridescent and have shorter tails than their male counterparts.

In terms of their dietary habits, Paradise jacamars are specialized insectivores with a particular taste for flying insects. Butterflies and moths are among their preferred prey, which they skillfully catch on the wing with quick, agile movements. Their long, pointed bills are perfectly adapted to this hunting style, allowing them to quickly snatch insects out of the air.

Their hunting strategy is patient; they often perch still on a branch in the forest canopy or at the edge of the woodland, watching for insects. When they spot a target, they dart out with impressive speed, grab their prey in midair, and return to their perch to consume it. Their ability to discern between palatable and unpalatable prey is a testament to their intelligence. They can avoid toxic or foul-tasting species and even distinguish between harmful prey and harmless ones that mimic the appearance of the dangerous species.

When it comes to reproduction, Paradise jacamars are monogamous birds that invest considerable effort in raising their young. They typically nest in burrows that they excavate in earthen banks or sometimes in termite nests. Both parents share responsibilities in nest construction, incubation, and feeding the chicks. In some cases, older offspring from previous clutches may stay to assist the parents with the care of new broods, a behavior known as cooperative breeding.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Bolivia
2016
Brazil
2016
Colombia
2016
Ecuador
2016
French Guiana
2016
Guyana
2016
Peru
2016
Suriname
2016
Venezuela
2016

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No