What Is the National Bird of Nicaragua?

I couldn’t help but wonder what exactly is the national bird of Nicaragua. So, I set out on a quest to uncover the answer, delving into the rich history and vibrant culture of this Central American country. From the lush rainforests to the enchanting coastline, Nicaragua is home to an incredible array of wildlife. So, with curiosity fueling my every step, I embarked on this journey to reveal the fascinating creature that holds such a prestigious title.

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Nicaragua, located in Central America, is a country known for its stunning natural beauty and rich biodiversity. From the pristine beaches of the Pacific and Caribbean coasts to the lush rainforests and majestic volcanoes, this diverse landscape provides a habitat for a wide array of plants and animals. Amongst the many treasures of Nicaragua’s wildlife, the national bird holds a special place in the hearts of its people.

Geographical Information

Nicaragua is situated between Honduras and Costa Rica, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east. The country is characterized by a diverse range of ecosystems, including rainforests, cloud forests, wetlands, and mountains. This geographic diversity creates an ideal habitat for various flora and fauna, making Nicaragua a biodiversity hotspot.

Biodiversity in Nicaragua

Nicaragua’s unique geographical features result in a stunning array of biodiversity. The country is home to over 700 species of birds, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise. In addition to the avian species, Nicaragua boasts diverse wildlife, including mammals such as jaguars, ocelots, and monkeys, as well as reptiles, amphibians, and a multitude of plant species. The abundant biodiversity contributes to the country’s vibrant ecosystems and reinforces the need for conservation efforts.

National Symbols of Nicaragua

Every country has its national symbols that embody its identity and heritage. For Nicaragua, the national bird stands proudly as one such symbol, representing the country’s natural beauty, freedom, and resilience. In addition to the national bird, Nicaragua also has other symbols, such as the national flag, coat of arms, and a national flower.

Other National Symbols

Apart from the national bird, Nicaragua’s national flag is a powerful emblem of the country’s history and values. The flag consists of three horizontal stripes – blue on top representing the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, white in the middle symbolizing purity, and finally, a rainbow-colored stripe at the bottom, signifying peace. The national coat of arms features volcanic peaks, a rainbow, and two frigates representing the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Significance of National Symbols

National symbols hold great significance for a country and its people as they represent the collective identity and values of the nation. They serve as a unifying force, reminding Nicaraguans of their shared heritage and providing a sense of pride and patriotism. These symbols also help promote Nicaragua’s culture, history, and natural beauty to the world.

National Bird of Nicaragua

The national bird of Nicaragua is the Turquoise-browed Motmot, scientifically known as Eumomota superciliosa. With its vibrant plumage and distinctively shaped tail, this bird captivates both locals and visitors alike.


The Turquoise-browed Motmot is a medium-sized bird, measuring approximately 34 to 38 centimeters in length. It is known for its striking coloration, featuring shimmery turquoise feathers on its face, chest, and wings. The tail is long and racket-shaped, with elongated central feathers adorned with blue, turquoise, and green hues. Its head flaunts a unique facial pattern, with a black mask-like stripe across its eyes and a patch of blue feathers above the bill.


This magnificent bird is predominantly found in the dry forests and lowland areas of Nicaragua, thriving in the tropical and subtropical regions. It favors habitats with tall trees, often seen perched on branches near clearings or forest edges. The Turquoise-browed Motmot is also prevalent in areas with dense undergrowth, allowing it to seek shelter and nest successfully.


The diet of the Turquoise-browed Motmot consists mainly of insects, such as beetles, ants, and termites. It also feeds on small reptiles, mammals, and occasionally consumes fruits. Its keen eyesight helps it locate prey from its elevated perches, swooping down gracefully to catch its meal.


One of the distinctive behaviors of the Turquoise-browed Motmot is its habit of wagging its tail from side to side in a pendulum-like motion. This tail wagging serves various purposes, such as communication, territory defense, and courtship displays. The bird also emits a unique call, a low, resonating “hoo-coo-coo” sound, which can be heard across its habitat.


During the breeding season, male Turquoise-browed Motmots display elaborate courtship rituals to attract mates. They engage in aerial displays, including swoops and dives, while flashing their vibrantly colored tail feathers. Once a pair has formed, they build a burrow-like nest in earthen banks or holes in trees. The female typically lays 3 to 6 eggs, which are incubated by both parents. After about three weeks, the hatchlings emerge, and both parents share the responsibility of feeding and caring for the chicks.

Misconceptions and Controversies

Confusion with the Motmot Bird

Due to similarities in appearance and behavior, the Turquoise-browed Motmot is often mistakenly referred to as the “Motmot bird.” However, it is important to note that the Motmot is a collective term for a group of bird species belonging to the family Momotidae. The Turquoise-browed Motmot is just one of the various Motmot species found in Central and South America.

Conservation Status

While the Turquoise-browed Motmot is not currently listed as endangered, its habitat continues to face threats such as deforestation, habitat fragmentation, and illegal trade. These factors emphasize the importance of conservation efforts to protect not only this captivating bird but also the entire ecosystem it relies upon.

Significance of the National Bird

Cultural Importance

The Turquoise-browed Motmot holds significant cultural importance in Nicaragua. Its striking appearance and distinct behavior have made it an iconic symbol of the country’s natural beauty and resilience. The bird’s presence in the forests and its unique call have inspired local folklore and traditional tales, becoming woven into Nicaragua’s cultural fabric.

Conservation Efforts

Recognizing the need to preserve their national bird and its habitat, Nicaragua has implemented various conservation initiatives. Collaborations between governmental organizations, nonprofit groups, and local communities have resulted in the establishment of protected areas and the implementation of sustainable practices. These efforts contribute not only to the preservation of the Turquoise-browed Motmot but also to the conservation of other wildlife and the overall ecological balance.

History and Evolution

Selection Process

The designation of the Turquoise-browed Motmot as Nicaragua’s national bird was the result of careful consideration and a democratic selection process. In 2011, the Nicaraguan government opened the decision-making to the public, inviting the population to vote for their preferred candidate from a shortlist of bird species. The Turquoise-browed Motmot emerged as the clear favorite, reflecting its popularity and cultural significance.

Previous National Birds

Before the Turquoise-browed Motmot, Nicaragua had recognized the Guardabarranco, or Rufous-collared Sparrow, as its national bird. However, in 2011, a new selection process was initiated to reconsider the national avian symbol. This change was embraced as an opportunity to update and highlight a bird that better represented Nicaragua’s biodiversity and natural heritage.

Promotion of the National Bird

Educational Programs

Nicaragua places great importance on educating its citizens, particularly the younger generation, about the national bird and the need for its conservation. Schools and educational institutions have integrated the study of the Turquoise-browed Motmot and its habitat into their curriculum. This approach helps foster a sense of environmental stewardship among students, inspiring them to protect not only the national bird but also the country’s diverse ecosystems.

Tourism Industry

The national bird of Nicaragua also plays a vital role in promoting ecotourism. The vibrant plumage and captivating behaviors of the Turquoise-browed Motmot attract birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts from around the world. This influx of visitors contributes to the local economy and incentivizes the conservation of the bird’s natural habitats, providing a win-win situation for both the environment and local communities.

Birdwatching in Nicaragua

Popular Birdwatching Spots

Nicaragua offers fantastic opportunities for birdwatching, with its diverse ecosystems and abundance of avian species. Some popular birdwatching spots include the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve, where visitors can spot rare and elusive species, and the pristine forests of Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve. Isla de Ometepe, located in Lake Nicaragua, is also a birdwatcher’s paradise brimming with unique avian species.

Commonly Spotted Species

In addition to the national bird, Nicaragua boasts a wealth of other bird species that delight birdwatchers. The country is home to the resplendent quetzal, the keel-billed toucan, various species of hummingbirds, and the elegant great blue heron, among many others. Birdwatchers can witness the breathtaking sight of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats, leaving an indelible mark on their memories.

National Bird in Art and Culture

Artistic Depictions

The national bird of Nicaragua has inspired countless artists to capture its beauty and grace in various art forms. Paintings, sculptures, and handicrafts adorned with images of the Turquoise-browed Motmot can be found in galleries and markets throughout the country. These artistic expressions not only celebrate the bird’s physical attributes but also serve as a reminder of its cultural significance.

Literary References

Nicaragua’s rich literary tradition has also included mentions of the national bird in numerous works. Poets and authors have drawn inspiration from its vibrant plumage and unique behaviors, incorporating the Turquoise-browed Motmot into their prose and poetry. These literary references further elevate the bird’s status as a symbol of Nicaragua’s natural beauty and cultural heritage.


The national bird of Nicaragua, the Turquoise-browed Motmot, embodies the country’s natural beauty, resilience, and cultural heritage. As a symbol of pride and a representation of the vibrant biodiversity within Nicaragua, this captivating bird captures the imagination of locals and visitors alike. Efforts to protect the Turquoise-browed Motmot and its habitat not only safeguard this magnificent species but also serve as a testament to the nation’s commitment to preserving its natural heritage for generations to come.





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