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BIRD OF THE WEEK
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Steatornis caripensis
HABITAT: Breeds and roosts in caves sometimes roosts in trees.
The Oilbird is an oddity. It’s a nocturnal, fruit-eating bird that uses echolocation, much like a bat, to navigate. It nests inside caves in noisy colonies, where its raspy wails give it the Spanish nickname guácharo, “one who whines or laments.” Oilbirds are in their own family but are part of a larger group of night birds including Eastern Whip-poor-will, Chuck-will’s-widow, and Common Potoo.
Oilbirds spend their days in darkness, resting deep inside caves and sometimes within thick tree canopies. They awake just before dusk and leave their roosts to feed, using keen nocturnal vision and sense of smell to locate fruit, which they pluck from trees while hovering.