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Two intergeneric hybrids between motmots from the Amazon forest: Rufous Motmot (Baryphthengus martii) × Amazonian Motmot (Momotus momota)


Hybridization is a relatively common phenomenon in birds, but it is probably underestimated due to our poor knowledge on the reproductive biology of several species. Here, we present the second case of intergeneric hybrid in the family Momotidae and the first case between Amazonian Motmot (Momotus momota) and Rufous Motmot (Baryphthengus martii). In addition to the field record documented herein, we searched for possible hybrids among 57 study skins and 175 photographs and videos publicly available in online databases. The overall plumage pattern of the hybrid individual recorded in the field was similar to that of the Rufous Motmot, except for the following features, which appear to have been inherited from the Amazonian Motmot: two narrow blue lines in the facial mask; distinct blue feathers on the pectoral spot; and central rectrices with terminal racquets. Among the database photos examined, we found a second possible hybrid, with the same diagnostic features present in the hybrid recorded in the field. Similarities in behavior and vocalizations, in addition to the scarcity of mates in the limits of the distributions of Amazonian and Rufous Motmots, may explain the occurrence of hybrids between them.

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We are thankful to Ester Ramirez and Marcos Holanda for fully supporting the birding expedition to the Amazonia National Park; Gilberto Nascimento conducted us in the Park and ICMBio (Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade) granted the permit necessary to birding activities in the area. We thank Fátima Lima and Luís Fábio Silveira for allowing access and providing information on specimens deposited at Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi and Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo, respectively. We are thankful also to the Editor and an anonymous reviewer that provided valuable improvements in the manuscript. PVC and GRG are supported by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior – Brasil (CAPES) Doctoral’s fellowships (no. 1537057 and no. 1537056, respectively). AA is supported by a CNPq research productivity fellowship (no. 306843/2016-1).

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Correspondence to Pablo Vieira Cerqueira.

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Communicated by: Gustavo S. Cabanne

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Cerqueira, P.V., Gonçalves, G.R. & Aleixo, A. Two intergeneric hybrids between motmots from the Amazon forest: Rufous Motmot (Baryphthengus martii) × Amazonian Motmot (Momotus momota). Ornithol. Res. 28, 57–60 (2020).

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  • Citizen science
  • Hybridization
  • Introgression
  • Momotidae
  • Neotropic
  • Scarcity of mates