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Bucconidae – Puffbirds

Chestnut-capped Puffbird in Ecuador: Photo by Nick Athanas

Bucconidae, commonly known as puffbirds, are a family of tropical birds found in Central and South America. These birds are characterized by their stocky bodies, large heads, and broad bills, which are adapted for catching insects and small vertebrates.

Overview of Bucconidae

Puffbirds are adept hunters in the forests of the Neotropics, employing a patient approach to capture large invertebrates and small vertebrates. Sporting robust bills, reminiscent of the forest kingfishers found in the Eastern Hemisphere, they exhibit a diverse range of colorations. Some species display bold black and white patterns, while others feature subtle streaks and spots in shades of brown and gray. Those with streaked plumage often possess abundant rictal bristles and a relaxed appearance, giving them a puffy demeanor. These bristles likely serve to shield their eyes from the stings of prey rather than aiding in capture. With their large eyes, puffbirds are known to forage well into the dim light of dusk within the dense forest canopy.