Motmot (momotus, Briss.; priorities, 111.), a genus of American fissirostral birds of the family of rollers and subfamily momotina. The single genus is characterized by a bill rather long, slightly curved, with compressed sides, hooked and obtuse tip, and lateral margins serrated; wings moderate and rounded, fourth to sixth quills nearly equal and longest; tail lengthened and graduated, with the two middle feathers usually longer than the others; tarsi as long as the middle toe, covered in front with narrow transverse scales; toes unequal, the outer nearly as long as the middle and united at the base as far as the second joint, the inner short and slightly united, the hind short and weak, and the claws compressed and curved; the tongue is long and barbed as in the toucans. The name is derived from the peculiar notes. There are about a dozen species, bold and wild, inhabitants of tropical America and the "West Indies, especially in the deep shades of the forests or gloomy recesses of old buildings; they are usually solitary in the daytime, perching with the head drawn between the shoulders; they are most lively at early morning and in the dusk of evening, pursuing insects in short flights; they also eat fruits, lizards, and snakes, which are tossed into the air from the point of the bill and swallowed; they sometimes devour the eggs of other birds.
The nest is made in holes of trees or banks of earth. They are said to peck off the barbs from a portion of the stem of the central tail feathers, leaving a rounded feathered surface at the tip. The best known species is the Brazilian motmot (M. Brasiliensis, Lath.), about the size of a blackbird, of a deep rich green color, with bluish forehead, violet back of head, and black crown. The movements are awkward on the ground.
Brazilian Motmot (M. Brasiliensis).