The Puffbirds of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador are an intriguing bird family.

Puffbirds of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador
Collared Puffbird secretive sit at mid-canopy level, found in the Shiripuno Amazon Lodge.

Puffbirds of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador are a large head and short tail, with a chunky body,  Puffbirds with their loose, abundant plumage and short tails make them look stout and Puffy, giving rise to their English name.

The Puffbirds, Nunbirds, Nunlets, and Monklets all are relatives, they are present all around the Amazon Basin in all habitats.

Watch Video of White-necked Puffbird in the Yasuni National Park.

Puffbirds of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador are tropical tree-dwelling insectivorous birds, sit-and-wait hunters, perching unmoving for long periods while watching for insect prey. As well as arthropods, they may eat small lizards and plant material.

Puffbirds of the Amazon Rainforest Nuclear DNA Analysis Says…

Puffbirds and Jacamars were sister groups, indicates that the Nunlets (genus Nonnula) diverged from the common ancestor of other puffbirds an estimated 25 million years ago, with the genus Malacoptila the next to branch off around 19.1 million years ago in the Miocene epoch.

Nesting of the Puffbirds in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador

Puffbirds nesting sites are burrows in the dirt, rotten wood or termite mounds, lay clutches of two or three round, small, and white eggs. The incubation is around two weeks by both parents. Born blind and naked, crawl to the entrance of the nest burrow at one or two days of age. Adults feed them partly chewed insects.

We have the chance to listen to most the following species of Puffbirds Nunbirds, Nunlet, and Monklet during Our Birding Trips in the Rainforest.

Puffbirds of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador
White-chested Puffbird found in the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve.

Listen to Twelve Species of Puffbirds and relatives living in the Rainforest in Ecuador

The Puffbirds are one of the most silent birds in the Neotropics and vocalize very rarely. When calling they mostly do so at dawn and dusk. It consists of repeated and high-pitched whistles.

The Nunbirds are the most vocal of the family; they have a wide repertoire of calls and often give very loud shouts.

1.- White-necked Puffbird (Notharchus hyperrhynchus)

The White-necked Puffbird is one of the largest, most widespread members of the puffbird family, and frequents the forest canopy. With its massive bill, it feeds on large insects, frogs, and lizards.

2.- Pied Puffbird (Notharchus tectus)

Pied Puffbird is the smallest of the black and white puffbirds, a small-sized, mainly black-and-white puffbird, rare in the canopy of Varzea and to lesser extend Terra Firme Forests where it seems to favor forest edges, tall second growth, clearings, and plantations.

3.- Chestnut-capped Puffbird (Bucco macrodactylus)

The Chestnut-capped Puffbird is a small size with bright chestnut cap, and black mask and breast band distinguish it from all other puffbirds. Found in pairs around “edge”, along streams and clearings in the seasonally flooded forest. Seen perched in the mid-story for long periods of time. It forages by sallying out and grabbing insects.

5.- Collared Puffbird (Bucco capensis)

Collared Puffbird has a very large head and short tail, with a chunky body. Like other puffbirds, this species employs a sit-and-wait strategy for hunting, which it uses to catch insects and small vertebrate, which has earned it nicknames such as “lazy bird” and “sleeper”

6.- White-chested Puffbird (Malacoptila fusca)

White-chested Puffbird is inconspicuous and difficult to see. forage in the understory by sallying out to catch insects from low vegetation or the ground. When not foraging, they often sit immobile for long periods of time. The song is mellow descending trill, and the call is a high descending whistle, peeeuuuuu.

7.- Lanceolated Monklet (Micromonacha lanceolata)

The Lanceolated Monklet is small, distinctive puffbird, seldom-seen, and oft-overlooked rainforest inhabitant. It is associating loosely with sub-canopy flocks, perching quietly, often without moving for extended periods.

8.- Brown Nunlet (Nonnula brunnea)

Brown Nunlet is rusty brown with darker upperparts with red orbital skin, confined to a very small range within western Amazonia, occurs in humid lowland terra firme forest, old second growth.

9.- Black-fronted Nunbird (Monasa nigrifrons)

The Black-fronted is the only Nunbird with all-dark plumage and an orange bill. Flocks in groups, perch conspicuously and regularly erupt choruses of whistles and churrs. It forages arthropods at lower levels in open floodplain forest, floodplain forest edge, bamboo, and riverine secondary growth. Nests in a burrow in a bank or in the ground.

10.- White-fronted Nunbird (Monasa morphoeus)]

White-fronted Nunbird is glossy black or gray-black with a stout red-orange bill, white face markings on the cere,  Resident in the midstory and subcanopy of Terra-firme forest, frequently found in mixed passerine flocks, a good indication of a nearby flock.

11.- Yellow-billed Nunbird (Monasa flavirostris)

The Yellow-billed Nunbird is unique in displaying a yellow bill and some white on the scapulars. It favors Terra Firme forest where it seems to be associated with landslides.

12.- Swallow-winged Puffbird (Chelidoptera tenebrosa)

The Swallow-winged Puffbird digs its nest in sandy soil, forming a burrow two or three feet long, where it lays one or two eggs. It is a fairly common, perched high on a dead branch along a riverbank, or openings, typically observed in pairs. It is known to capture insects from open perches.