|by Marcia Malory|
Puffbirds are members of the family Bucconidae.
They belong to the order Piciformes.
A puffbird has a short, compact body, a big head and a short tail.
Puffbirds get their name from the fact that they often puff up their feathers. With their short, stout bodies, this causes them to look like puffballs.
An adult puffbird is between about 5 inches and 1 foot long.
Puffbirds have dullish brown, reddish brown, black, gray or white plumage, often with streaks or spots on their undersides.
They have short, round wings.
A puffbird has a flat, wide beak. In many species, the beak is hook-shaped.
Like most Piciformes, puffbirds have zygodactylous feet - two toes on each foot face forward and two toes on each foot face backward.
Puffbirds live in tropical Mexico, Central America and South America, in forests and savannas. They can usually be found at forest edges, in clearings and near lakes and streams.
Many species live in the Amazon basin.
Puffbirds live in trees (are arboreal).
The diet of a puffbird includes insects and small vertebrates, such as small frogs and small lizards. Some puffbirds have been known to eat fruits as well.
Puffbirds hunt by perching on tree branches, waiting for prey, and then grab it.
They can fly very quickly.
Most puffbirds are solitary, but in some species, birds live in family groups.
Puffbirds are monogamous.
Some puffbirds dig nests in termite mounds or in ant beds.
Others dig burrows in the ground. These burrows lead to nesting chambers.
Some species of puffbird take over nests that have been abandoned by other birds.
The female usually lays between two and four eggs.
One brood is raised each year.
Both parents incubate the eggs and take care of the chicks.
Chicks will crawl from the nesting chamber to the entrance of the burrow in order to be fed.
There are about 30 species of puffbird alive today.
Some species of puffbird are known as nunbirds, some are called nunlets, and one species, Micromanacha lanceolata, is known as the lanceolated monklet. These epithets come from the birds' somber coloring.
The puffbird population is declining because of deforestation.