|by Marcia Malory|
Jacamars are members of the family Galbulidae.
They belong to the order Piciformes.
Jacamars live in forests and savannas in the tropics of Mexico, Central America and South America.
They range from about 5 ½ inches to a little over a foot long.
Many species of jacamar have brightly colored, iridescent plumage.
Jacamars often have metallic blue or metallic green feathers on their heads and upper parts, red underparts and light patches on their breasts.
Males and females of the same species are similarly colored, although females may have duller coloring on their heads and necks.
Jacamars have long, sharp bills, long, narrow tongues, long tails and short legs.
Almost all jacamars have feet that are zygodactylous. This means that each foot has two toes facing forward and two toes facing backward.
An exception is the three-toed jacamar (Jacamaralcyon tridaetyla), which has two toes facing forward and only one toe facing backward.
Jacamars eat insects, including butterflies, moths, ants and wasps. They hunt by sitting on perches, waiting for prey, and then swooping down to grab it.
The jacamar's long bill enables it to grab the insect and hold it far away from its face so that the insect cannot blind it with fluttering wings or sting it.
A jacamar will remove an insect's wings and its stinger - if it has one - before eating it.
Some jacamars pluck insects off the ground or out of tree crevices.
A jacamar's diet may also include spiders and small lizards.
Jacamars are monogamous.
They use their bills to drill burrows in riverbanks and in banks of soil. These burrow lead to nesting chambers.
Some jacamars build nests in termite mounds.
In some species, the female builds the nest by herself, while in others, male and female work together.
A clutch contains one to four eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs.
When the chicks hatch, they are covered with white down.