Turquoise-Browed Motmot: The National Bird of El Salvador – AZ Animals

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El Salvador is a Central American country with a coastline on the Pacific Ocean. Honduras is along the northeast border and Guatemala is the north. The rainforests in El Salvador host some of the most unusual species including a wide variety of birds. El Salvador has big-billed toucans and colorful macaws but neither of these are the national bird. Read on to find out all about the national bird of El Salvador.
The national bird of El Salvador is the turquois-browed motmot. When you see the coloration of these birds you will understand why the El Salvador people chose this amazing bird. Yes, the bird does have turquois colored brows, but it is an incredibly beautiful bird with a mix of turquois, brilliant greens and reds. One of the unique characteristics of these birds is their long tail feathers that are wire-like leading to bright turquoise discs. In El Salvador they call the bird Torogoz.
Turquois-browed Motmot live in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. In El Salvador you will find them in semi-arid forest and shrubland but you won’t find them in the densest parts of the rainforest. They tend to perch on trees at the edges of forests and more out in the open than some other tropical birds. Turquois-browed motmots do not make cup-shaped nests out of twigs, instead they dig long burrows in the ground and along river banks.
The Turquois-browed motmot symbolizes freedom, liberty and the beauty of nature. There are legends in Central America stemming from early Mayan cultures about the motmot. The legend goes that the motmot was given the job to wake all the other birds in the morning. One morning, at sunrise, it forgot and as a punishment it was stripped of all its tail feathers except two. Those two tail feathers are what dangle behind the motmot today.
©Becky Matsubara / Flickr – License
Yes! The turquois-browed motmot is the national bird and animal of El Salvador. Some countries specify a specific national animal while others, like the U.S. specify a national mammal. The national mammal of the U.S. is the American Bison. The national bird of the U.S. is the bald eagle.
No. The flag does have the coat of arms, but the national bird is not on the design. The El Salvador flag has three equal horizontal stripes of blue white and blue. The beautiful coat of arms is featured in the center of the flag. The coat of arms is very colorful, just like the turquois-browed motmot with the five volcanoes of Cordelira de Apaneca in the center. The bright green volcanoes are set in the cool blue waters of the ocean with a colorful sun rising in the backdrop. The words REPÚBLICA DE EL SALVADOR EN LA AMÉRICA CENTRAL in all caps, circles the image and the national motto, DIOS UNIÓN LIBERTAD (God Union Liberty) is printed on a gold banner.
©iStock.com/Oleksii Liskonih
No. The national bird of El Salvador is not on its money, but the banknotes do feature some beautiful artwork of national monuments, historical sites and ancient ruins. The front of the banknotes feature Christopher Columbus and the backs have a different image on each denomination with the National Palace on the 5 note, the Izalco volcano on the 10 and the archeological site of Tazumal on the 100 note.
Sometimes the Motmot is referred to as the “clock bird” because its tail feathers will sway back and forth like the pendulum on a grandfather clock. It is believed that motmot do this to let a predator know that they have been detected and they also use the display during courting rituals.
Other animals that live in El Salvador are the long nosed anteater, caiman and crocodiles, flying squirrels, geckos, howler monkeys, ocelot and jaguars. Other birds in El Salvador are the keel-billed toucan, colorful quetzal, harpy eagle, roseate spoonbill, scarlet macaw and the tiny hummingbird.
When it comes to snakes there are plenty slithering around, especially in the rainforest, but there are six venomous ones to be aware of:
Other dangerous animals in the country include venomous centipedes, scorpions and spiders as well as the aforementioned caimen and crocodiles. Jaguars are definitely dangerous but they are rarely seen and are actually considered “Near Threatened” by the IUCN. Many of the unique animals in El Salvador are being protected at national parks and preserves. The people of El Salvador value their diverse fauna and flora.
Off the coast of El Salvador is the largest animal in the world! Blue whales spend some time during their migrations off the coast of El Salvador. Did you know blue whales can get to be 98 feet long? You can charter a whale watching tour from several of the beachside towns along the coast. Dolphins frequent the coast of El Salvador and there are at least 9 different species of sharks including shortfin makos, hammerheads and great white sharks.
For some excellent deep sea fishing you can have a hand at trying to reel in a massive marlin, swordfish, tuna or mackerel. You will most likely see a dolphin or a pod of dolphins as they are common off the coast. Closer to shore you might glimpse a West Indian manatee. There are also four species of sea turtles like the leatherback, hawksbill, olive ridley and black turtle.
©Andrew Sutton/Shutterstock.com
Two of the most likely places to spot the national bird of El Salvador is at the Parque Nacional Cerro Verde and the Cerro El Pital. Both parks are habitats for a variety of birds and wildlife so bring your camera to see if you are lucky enough to get a shot of one of these marvelous birds.
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