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Unveiling the Fascinating Biology of Brown Jacamar: Behavior Habitat and More!

Brown Jacamar, Brachygalba lugubrisThe Brown Jacamar, also known as Brachygalba lugubris, is a Neotropical bird that belongs to the family of Galbulidae, a group of birds exemplified for their long and thin bill. The Brown Jacamar is a stunning bird that has distinguishing features such as its elongated colorful bill, beautiful plumage, and a neat silhouette.

They are found in various forest habitats, often in humid regions. In this article, we will explore the identification, field identification, plumages, and molts of the Brown Jacamar to offer a better understanding of this beautiful bird species.


The Brown Jacamar is a small bird species that measures around 17cm long and generally weighs around 19 grams. These birds have a unique and elongated bill that is almost the same length as their body.

The bill is brown and with a bluish-gray tip. The bird’s plumage is entirely uniform light and dark brown color, with a slightly paler vent.

Its eyes are dark-brown, not easily noticeable since it blends with their dark feathers. Field


Brown Jacamar is recognizable by their distinct, energetic effect.

They appear to be in purposeful movement while swooping through the landscape while hunting for insects. The bird’s unique call sounds like a series of high-pitched squeaky whistles.

These sounds are the easiest way to identify the Brown Jacamar in the field. It would help if you listened carefully to their distinct calls before setting out to spot them in the forest.

Similar Species

The Rufous-tailed Jacamar is similar to the Brown Jacamar species. However, the Rufous-tailed Jacamar has a bright rufous color on its tail, and its wings are bluish-green.

The Rufous-tailed Jacamar has a more vibrant plumage, making it easy to differentiate between the two species.


There is no sexual dimorphism in the plumage of Brown Jacamar species. Both male and female birds have a uniform color of light and dark brown plumage.

They have a slightly paler vent, which differentiates them from other species. The color of the feathers does not change through the year, and the plumage remains consistent throughout their life cycle.


The Brown Jacamar species go through a complete molt, shedding all of their feathers all at the same time. Molting is a delicate period for birds, and it is important not to disturb them, especially during the time it takes them to get new feathers.

The timing of their molts plays a significant role in their breeding season. During the breeding season, they molt at a slower pace to maintain their feathers’ health.

After the breeding season, they undergo a more rapid molt to begin their migration to different sections of the forest.


In summary, the Brown Jacamar is a magnificent bird species that can be identified by its elongated colorful bill, beautiful plumage, and neat silhouette. These birds are found in various forest habitats and are recognized by their distinct calls.

They undergo a complete molt cycle, shedding all of their feathers at once. While the Brown Jacamar has some similarities with other species in the same family, the length and color of their bill are the most key factors in identifying them.

If you happen to be on a forest walk, take the time to identify and appreciate these distinct brown birds with their unique calls and vibrant personalities.

Systematics History

The study of the geographic variation, subspecies, and related species of a bird species helps ornithologists understand the evolutionary history of bird populations and the processes that have shaped their diversification. In this article, we will explore the systematics history of the Brown Jacamar, Brachygalba lugubris, focusing on its geographic variation, subspecies, related species, and changes to its distribution over time.

Geographic Variation

The Brown Jacamar’s geographic variation is a natural phenomenon caused by different evolutionary factors. It is commonly observed that populations of the same species that are geographically isolated from each other exhibit differences in morphology and behavior.

Ornithologists have recognized several subspecies of the Brown Jacamar based on geographic variation, such as Brachygalba lugubris albiventer, Brachygalba lugubris ariel, and Brachygalba lugubris blakei.


Brachygalba lugubris albiventer, also known as the White-bellied Jacamar, is a subspecies of the Brown Jacamar found in eastern Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. It is characterized by its white belly, black breast band, and a more massive bill compared to the other subspecies.

This subspecies inhabits open forests and is known to feed on fruit and insects that are abundant in these habitats. The White-bellied Jacamar has a distinctive call and vocalizes more frequently than the other subspecies.

Brachygalba lugubris ariel, also known as the Northern Brown Jacamar, is a subspecies found in Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Gulf Coast of Mexico. The Northern Brown Jacamar can be identified by its cinnamon-brown crown and back, with barely any brown markings on its tail.

This subspecies is most commonly found in lowland rainforests, but it has also been spotted in deciduous forests and mangroves. It lives in groups and feeds mostly on insects.

Brachygalba lugubris blakei, also known as Blake’s Jacamar, is a subspecies of the Brown Jacamar found in western Colombia. This subspecies is slightly larger than the other subspecies, has a more extended bill, and a more massive build in general.

They are found in forests’ edges and clearings, feeding mostly on fruit and insects.

Related Species

The Brown Jacamar belongs to the family Galbulidae, a group of tropical birds. The Jacamars are closely related to the puffbirds and woodcreepers.

The puffbirds share a similar bill shape to Jacamars, and they are typically larger in body size than Jacamars. Woodcreepers are more similar in body structure than the puffbirds, with a similarly shaped tail and bill.

The Jacamars family is composed of 18 species, including the White-eared Jacamar, Great Jacamar, and Rufous-tailed Jacamar.

Historical Changes to Distribution

Historical changes to the Brown Jacamar’s distribution may be related to human activity, natural disturbances such as fires, or shifts in climate. Human activities that lead to changes in habitat availability and quality are considered one of the major factors that can lead to species distribution changes.

Deforestation and land clearing, for example, can lead to the loss of the Brown Jacamar’s natural habitat and reduce its available food and shelter. The Brown Jacamar is also impacted by natural disturbances such as wildfires that can lead to the loss of habitat and reduce available prey.

Climate change may also impact the distribution of the Brown Jacamar. Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns can affect the availability of resources, food sources, and breeding opportunities.

For example, if climate change causes extended droughts to occur, the Brown Jacamar may have less access to rivers and lakes for nesting sites and feeding areas. These changes to distribution, in turn, can lead to genetic drift and the formation of new subspecies, eventually leading to distinct species in the future.

In conclusion, studying the geographic variation, subspecies, related species, and changes to the Brown Jacamar’s distribution over time provides valuable insights into the evolutionary processes that shape bird populations. The Brown Jacamar’s subspecies are distinguished by morphological differences, their habitat preferences, and unique behavior traits.

Human activity, natural disturbances, and climate change all play a role in shaping changes in a bird’s distribution in the long term. Ornithologists will continue to study and observe the Brown Jacamar’s changes over time to broaden our understanding of the ecology and evolution of this beautiful bird species.


The Brown Jacamar, also known as Brachygalba lugubris, is a Neotropical bird that is widespread in various types of forest habitats in Central and South America. The Brown Jacamar is known to inhabit the understorey layer of primary and secondary forests, forest edges, open woodlands, plantations, and disturbed forest edges along rivers and streams.

They are usually found in humid regions below 1800 meters above sea level, but they have been spotted at higher altitudes. The Brown Jacamar prefers to live near water sources like streams, rivers, and forest clearings.

It prefers habitats characterized by open canopy coverage such as primary, secondary forests, and high-canopy forest edges. Trees with smooth bark and exposed sap holes are attractive to them as it provides them with valuable sources such as honey and insects.

The Brown Jacamars build their nest in tree cavities found in old and dead trees and vines that are often found along the forest edges. The nest diameter can range from 6 to 8cm, with an opening of around 3.5cm.

Movements and Migration

The Brown Jacamar is not known for its long-distance migration, and there are few records indicating that they move to different regions. However, there have been reports of vagrant birds outside of their normal range in Colombia, Guyana, Tobago, Trinidad, and Peru.

The Brown Jacamars tend to be sedentary and stay in relative proximity to their territories, sometimes covering distances less than 1km. Juvenile birds tend to disperse after leaving their parents’ care and move to new locations.

Ornithologists have confirmed that male Brown Jacamars tend to disperse further than females and are more likely to engage in conflicts over territory. For example, male juveniles leave their parents after one year and will move to a neighboring territory with another breeding pair.

The new breeding pair won’t tolerate these males, so they are forced to find another territory to settle in. Once a Brown Jacamar finds a suitable breeding territory and nest site, they tend to stay loyal to that site during the breeding season and remain close to the territory year-round.

The Brown Jacamar typically moves through short flights within the forest canopy, traveling from perch to perch while hunting for insects. They are capable of short bursts of rapid flight when chasing insects, but they are not known for sustained flight.

Researchers have found that the Brown Jacamar tends to move more often during the wet season than the dry season, usually between May and September, a time when food is more abundant. In conclusion, the Brown Jacamar’s habitat preference is for various forest habitats, including primary and secondary forests, high-canopy forest edges, and disturbed forest edges.

It tends to favor trees with smooth bark and sap holes, which provide it with a food source. Brown Jacamars are known for their sedentary behavior and do not typically engage in long-distance movements or migration.

However, young males tend to disperse farther than females, and juvenile males tend to move during the wet season, a time when resources are more abundant. Ornithologists will continue to observe the movements and behaviors of Brown Jacamars to deepen our understanding of their ecological and evolutionary patterns.

Diet and Foraging

Brown Jacamar, Brachygalba lugubris, is a bird species that primarily feeds on insects. The small, elongated and colorful bill of the Brown Jacamar makes it unique and well suited for capturing insects that are on leaves, bark, or flying through the forest canopy.

The Brown Jacamar forages for prey by several methods, such as hawking, sallying, flycatching, and gleaning.


The Brown Jacamar’s feeding behavior is highly energetic as it has to capture insects that are in motion. The birds are known to consume prey larger than their bill with ease.

The Brown Jacamar can capture prey by perching on a single branch and grabbing the prey out of the air. They also use a combination of short flights to locate prey and hovering in one spot in search of insects.


Insects make up the majority of the Brown Jacamar’s diet. They feed on a variety of insects, including beetles, ants, wasps, bees, cicadas, flies, and butterfly larvae.

They eat their prey whole and will shake and hit prey against branches or other hard surfaces before consuming it. The Brown Jacamar has been seen feeding on fruit, but it is generally not a significant part of their diet.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Brown Jacamar is a tiny bird, with a high metabolic rate to support its energetic lifestyle. To regulate its temperature, this species lowers its metabolic rate during inactive times of the day, such as when roosting at night.

During the daytime, the Brown Jacamar’s metabolic rate raises to match its energy demand for foraging and flying.

Sounds and Vocal


The Brown Jacamar, Brachygalba lugubris, has a variety of unique vocalizations that ornithologists use to identify the species. These sounds are used to attract mates, signal territory boundaries and communicate with other birds.


The Brown Jacamar’s vocalization is unique and often easy to identify. They make a series of high-pitched, piercing squeaks that they repeat to communicate with other birds.

They use calls for communication purposes, such as when the territorial defense or attracting a mate during breeding season. The Brown Jacamar’s vocalization is essential, like the visual display, to identify their territories, warn off potential intruders, and courtship.

The Brown Jacamar’s vocalization is not to be confused with its song, which is not as distinct as its call. The song is a series of fast-paced, high-pitched notes that can be easily missed if you are not paying close attention.

The Brown Jacamar is solitary by nature, and its song, unlike other bird species, is not used for establishing mating territory during the breeding season. In conclusion, the Brown Jacamar, Brachygalba lugubris, feeds primarily on insects, including beetles, ants, wasps, bees, cicadas, and butterfly larvae.

They use a variety of foraging techniques such as hawking, sallying, flycatching, and gleaning. The Brown Jacamar has a high metabolic rate to support its energetic lifestyle and has strategies to regulate its temperature through active and inactive times of the day.

The Brown Jacamar’s vocalization is a series of high-pitched, piercing squeaks that are used for territorial defense and courtship, while their song is a series of fast-paced, high-pitched notes that are not used to establish mating territory. Ornithologists will continue to study the Brown Jacamar’s feeding habits and use of vocalization to increase our understanding of this beautiful bird.


Brown Jacamar, Brachygalba lugubris, is a small, colorful bird species commonly found in the forested regions of Central and South America. Their behavior is unique, with several interesting features, including their locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic, and sexual behavior.


The Brown Jacamar typically moves around by hopping and making short flights from one perch to another. During flight, the Brown Jacamar flaps its wings rapidly, resembling an oversized butterfly and showcasing its beautiful plumage.

Brown Jacamars are agile birds and can move quickly to evade predators.

Self Maintenance

Brown Jacamar is extremely active in maintaining his feathers. They are known to preen their feathers several times a day using their bill, oil gland, and feet to keep them clean and aerodynamic.

Brown Jacamars have two oil glands on the lower back, secreting a waxy substance that they spread onto their feathers while they preen, making them waterproof. Agonistic


Brown Jacamars engage in agonistic behavior to establish breeding territory boundaries and assert their dominance.

This usually involves noisy displays such as calling, wing-flicking, body movements, and display flights. Territorial disputes usually only last for a couple of minutes, with the challenger backing down once it becomes apparent that the established bird is the superior one.



During the breeding season, male Brown Jacamars perform courtship displays to attract a mate. Courtship displays involve a combination of vocalization and physical displays, such as wing flicking and head turns.

If a female is interested, she will join in the display and even share food with the male.


The breeding season of the Brown Jacamar occurs from the latter half of May to early September when food supply is abundant. Brown Jacamars are monogamous, and both the male and female work together in the process of building the nest.

The nest is built in tree cavities, often in old or dead trees, or in vines or tree stumps. The nest is constructed using twigs, leaves, and often covered with spider webs to hold the material together.

The female lays 2-3 white eggs and incubates them for approximately 17-19 days before hatching. The chicks are born helpless, without feathers, and are fed by both parents.

The Brown Jacamars feed the chicks with insects during the first few weeks of their life before introducing some fruit into their diet.

Demography and Populations

The Brown Jacamar has a wide distribution covering a variety of habitats and elevations. Populations are stable, and the species is considered of low conservation concern.

However, deforestation and habitat loss may have local effects on its populations. Due to their sedentary behavior, Brown Jacamars have adapted to the variations in humidity and temperature.


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