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The OilBird (Steatornis caripensis)

This bird may seem like it has an odd name, but in fact, the reality is far scarier than you might have known. This little bird eats a lot of oil-rich plant-foods, which made these birds perfect for being harvested for this precious oil. They were killed by the thousands annually, and their oils pressed out and rendered for use in cooking and fuel for torches.

With that gruesome picture out of the way, what exactly is the OilBird, and what more information do we have about them?

Physical Description and Behavior

They are a fairly large bird, being up to 19 inches on average. Their feathers are a chestnut brown and have white spots on them. Their underside is an offwhite color. These birds have small feet which are not useful for much else besides holding onto tree branches.

Their face also has whiskers, which is very rare for birds. However, these hairs work similar to other animals and help them to feel in the dark.

These little guys consume a lot of palm and laurels and even feed them to their offspring. This means that the baby birds are often really small and plump. This has caused many people in the past the hunt them specifically for their oil.

The most fascinating thing about these birds is the fact that they are nocturnal. They forage for food at night, and while they have good eyesight, they are one of the only birds that also supplement that with echolocation.

Habitat and Location

This bird can be found in a variety of places in South America, such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. They like to make their homes in caves, which is generally uncommon for birds. These birds tend to need a location that has caves for nesting and roosting, as well as a forest, where they can find fruit.

Here is a great video about them from SciShow:

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