Puff Bird, an appropriate name for the bucconinoe, an American subfamily of diurnal fissirostral birds, placed by Gray in the kingfisher family, but by the older and some modern writers in the scansorial family of barbets or capitoninoe; the generic name bucco is applied by Cuvier to the latter. In the typical genus bucco (Linn.), as recognized by Gray, the bill is long, strong, elevated, and very broad at the base, where it is furnished with tufts of strong bristles, and suddenly curved at the tip, which is hooked; the gape very wide; nostrils concealed by the projecting plumes and bristles; wings moderate and rounded, the first quill short and the fourth the longest; tail long, broad, even, rounded on the sides; tarsi shorter than the middle toe, strong, and covered in front with transverse scales; toes two before and two behind, the outer anterior the longest, and the claws long and acute. There are about a dozen species described, in tropical South America; the name is derived from their habit of puffing out the plumage of the head, which gives them a heavy and ill balanced appearance.
They are solitary, silent, and melancholy-looking, living generally in retired woods, perching on some low and thickly leaved branch, with the large head drawn between the shoulders; thus they remain for hours at a time, occasionally darting after insects, returning to the same perch, which they are said to frequent for months together; they sometimes climb like woodpeckers, supported by the tail, in search of insects in the bark; the nest is made in the hollows of trees; they are not shy, and sometimes select spots near human habitations; their colors are sombre, very different from those of the barbets, with which some authors have classed them. The collared puff bird (B. collaris, Lath.) is 7 1/4 in. long; rufous above, striated with black; whitish on the chest, terminated by a broad black band; a similar band across the shoulders; abdomen rufous white; bill 1 1/2 in. and horn-colored. The pied puff bird ((B. macrorhynchus, Gmel.) is black, with a black and larger bill; general color black, with forehead, throat, abdomen, and tip of tail white. - Figures of many of these puff birds may be found in Swainson's "Birds of Brazil and Mexico" (London, 1841).
Pied Puff Bird (Bucco macrorhynchus).