Oilbird Steatornis caripensis
Oilbird, Chontal, Ecuador, November 2019 - click for a larger image Peru and Ecuador

The Oilbird is distributed from Panama and Colombia through Venezuela to Trinidad and Guyana and south through Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. See the distribution map at Birdlife International. A nocturnal bird it forages in primary tropical and subtropical forests while it roosts during the day in nearby caves and can be found as high as 3,400 metres.

Oilbird, Chontal, Ecuador, November 2019 - click for a larger image They feed entirely on fruit mainly of palms and they locate these fruits by smell travelling up to 120 kilometres from their roosts to feed. In their dark day roosts they use echolocation similar to bats.

Their oily diets cause the fledglings to gain a great deal of weight until they can be 50% heavier than their parents. The indigenous people used to catch the youngsters and boil them to extract this oil which they used mainly for cooking but also for oil lamps - hence the English name.

Oilbird, Cordillera Escalera, San Martin, Peru, October 2018 - click for a larger image The specific name caripensis is derived from the famous cave in Venezuela near the village of Caripe where Alexander von Humboldt first saw the birds in 1799. Vast numbers of oilbirds could be seen leaving the caves at dusk to begin their nocturnal feeding.

Previous Page Back to Index Next Page

If you do not see a menu on the left, you may have arrived at this page from another site. Please click Home to get to my main page.
Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional