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Galbulidae

Jacamar
Great Jacamar Jacamerops aureus ©John Afdem Website

The Galbulidae or Jacamars are a family of near passerine birds from tropical South and Central America, extending up to Mexico. The family contains five genera and 18 species. The family is closely related to the puffbirds, another Neotropical family, and the two families are often separated into their own order, Galbuliformes, separate from the Piciformes. They are principally birds of low-altitude woodlands and forests, and particularly of forest edge and canopy.

Jacamars are small to medium-sized perching birds, 14cm to 34cm in length and weighing 17g to 75g.They are elegant, glossy birds with long bills and tails. In appearance and behaviour they resemble the Old World bee-eaters, as most aerial insectivores tend to have short, wide bills rather than long, thin ones. The legs are short and weak, and the feet are zygodactylic (two forward-pointing toes, two backward-pointing). Their plumage is often bright and highly iridescent, although it is quite dull in a few species. There are minor differences in plumage based on sex, males often having a white patch on the breast.

They are insectivores, taking a variety of insect prey (many specialise on butterflies and moths) by hawking in the air. Birds sit in favoured perches and sally towards the prey when it is close enough. Only the Great Jacamar varies from the rest of the family, taking prey by gleaning and occasionally taking small lizards and spiders.

Their breeding systems have not been studied in depth. They are thought to generally be monogamous, although a few species are thought to engage in cooperative breeding sometimes, with several adults sharing duties. The family nests in holes either in the soil or in arboreal termite mounds. Ground-nesting species usually nest in the banks of rivers (or, more recently, roads), although if these are not available they will nest in the soil held by the roots of fallen trees. Bank-nesting jacamars can sometimes be loosely colonial. Clutch sizes are between one and four eggs, and usually more than one. Both parents participate in incubation. Little is known about the incubation times of most species, but it lasts for between 19 & 26 days in the Rufous-tailed Jacamar. Chicks are born with down feathers, unique among the piciformes.

There are generally considered to be 18 species within this family, which are:

White-eared Jacamar Galbalcyrhynchus leucotis
Purus Jacamar Galbalcyrhynchus purusianus

Dusky-backed Jacamar Brachygalba salmoni
Pale-headed Jacamar Brachygalba goeringi
Brown Jacamar Brachygalba lugubris
White-throated Jacamar Brachygalba albogularis

Three-toed Jacamar Jacamaralcyon tridactyla

Yellow-billed Jacamar Galbula albirostris
Blue-necked Jacamar Galbula cyanicollis
Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda
Green-tailed Jacamar Galbula galbula
Coppery-chested Jacamar Galbula pastazae
White-chinned Jacamar Galbula tombacea
Bluish-fronted Jacamar Galbula cyanescens
Purplish Jacamar Galbula chalcothorax
Bronzy Jacamar Galbula leucogastra
Paradise Jacamar Galbula dea

Great Jacamar Jacamerops aureus

Family Links

Jacamars Galbulidae

HBW Family Account

Annotated species list

Jacamars Galbulidae

Family Account

The Jacamars are a small family of sit-and-pursue predators in forests of the Neotropics. There are five genera in the family but all jacamars are easily recognized as members of the Galbulidae by their long, straight, thin and sharply-pointed bill; their generally colorful plumage; their slim, small-headed shape; and, for a substantial number of species, a long thin tail.

Jacamars Galbulidae

Species Account

The jacamars are a family, Galbulidae, of near passerine birds from tropical South and Central America, extending up to Mexico. The family contains five genera and 18 species. The family is closely related to the puffbirds, another Neotropical family, and the two families are often separated into their own order, Galbuliformes, separate from the Piciformes. They are principally birds of low-altitude woodlands and forests, and particularly of forest edge and canopy.

Species Links

Coppery-chested Jacamar Galbula pastazae

BirdLife Species Account

Coppery-chested Jacamar Galbula pastazae

Species Account

The coppery-chested jacamar (Galbula pastazae) is a species of bird in the family Galbulidae. It is found in far southern Colombia, Ecuador and far northern Peru. Its natural habitat is subtropical and tropical moist montane forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Coppery-chested Jacamar Galbula pastazae

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Galbula pastazæ Taczanowski and Berlepsch, 1885, Mapoto and Machay, Ecuador. Traditionally considered a member of the species-group centred on G. galbula (which see); most closely related to G. tombacea and G. cyanescens. Monotypic.

Coppery-chested Jacamar Galbula pastazae

Cornell Species Account

Found from southern Colombia to northernmost Peru, the Coppery-chested Jacamar is endemic to the east slope of the Andes, where it is largely confined to a relatively narrow elevational band above 1000 m.

Coppery-chested Jacamar Galbula pastazae

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Great Jacamar Jacamerops aureus

Species Account

The great jacamar (Jacamerops aureus) is a species of bird in the family Galbulidae. It is placed in the monotypic genus Jacamerops. It is found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela, where its natural habitat is subtropical and tropical moist lowland forests

Great Jacamar Jacamerops aureus

BirdLife Species Account

Great Jacamar Jacamerops aureus

Cornell Species Account

The Great Jacamar is a large, striking bird of the canopy of humid lowland forests. By far the largest of the jacamars, it has glossy green upperparts, extensively rufous underparts, a rounded tail, and a long, thick black bill.

Great Jacamar Jacamerops aureus

HBW Species Account

Great Jacamar Jacamerops aureus

IUCN Species Status

Great Jacamar Jacamerops aureus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda

Species Account

The rufous-tailed jacamar (Galbula ruficauda) is a near-passerine bird which breeds in the tropical New World in southern Mexico, Central America and South America as far south as southern Brazil and Ecuador.

Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda

Cornell Species Account

The Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula ruficauda Cuvier 1816) is a beautiful inhabitant of forest edges and clearings of Central and South America.

Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda

BirdLife Species Account

Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Galbula ruficauda Cuvier, 1816, Guyana. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda

IUCN Species Status

Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 18